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W. A. Setchell 


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irap <r laav uaeavov re poag koI XevKctSa irirpjjv 
i]6h Tzap^ 'ijeTuoio TrdAcf mi Sijfiov bveipuv 










Copyright, 1905, by 
Perceval Landon 

Published February ^ ^9^S 




HIS country's foremost REPRESENTATIVE IN 






I Former Explorations of Tibet 3 . 

•in The Reasons for the Expedition 18 

III Crossing the Himalayas 40 

IV The Tibetans of the Chumbi Valley 62 

^ V The Fight at the Wall 75 

VI Forcing the Way to Gyantse 86 

VII Life in a Tibetan Town 99 

VIII Attacked by the Tibetans ' 123 

i IX The Dalai Lama shows his Hand 143 

X Life in the Besieged Post 169 

XI Religion: Manners and Customs: Art 184 

'4x11 Internal History of Lhasa 1902-4 210 

xiii Lamaism 232 

ixiv The Relief of the Mission 253 

XV The Advance to Lhasa 272 

XVI The Last Stage 297 

XVII Lhasa, I 319 

XVIII The Environs of Lhasa 348 

XIX The Potala and the Cathedral 372 

XX The Ride from Lhasa to India 397 

Appendices 417 


The Turquoise Bridge in Lhasa Frontispiece 


A Tibetan Monk with his Prayer-wheel 24 

A Road in the Himalayas 42 

Encamped under the Shadow of the Himalayas 44 


Member of the Expedition 68 

Outfitted to cross the high passes of the Himalayas in July 

The Two Abbots of a Tibetan Monastery 72 

Awaiting an Attack by the Tibetans 80 

Just Before the Fight at the Wall 82 

The Gurkha scouts deployed on the hillside; the Sikhs beginning to disarm the 
Tibetans at the further end of the wall 

A Few Minutes Later 84 

The British force still firing at the retreating Tibetans 

The Expedition Halting for the Night •. * , . 90 

The High Priest at Gyantse 92 

"^ " Who looks like a saddened Falstaff " 

A Valley near Samonda 94 

East End of the Jong, or Fortress, at Gyantse 94 

The Town of Gyantse 100 

Mural Paintings in the Lamasery of Palkhor Choide 102 

Images of Some of the Great Buddhist Teachers Worshiped by the 
Tibetans 104 

In the Palkhor Choide 

SJaily Bedecked Yaks Drawing a Plow , 106 

A Long-haired Monk at his Monastery 108 

The Window of a Hermit Cell at Nyen-de-kyi-buk . iio 

Prisoners Captured by the Mission in the Karola Fight 140 

Examples of Tibetan-Chinese Workmanship 204 

Specimens of Chinese-Tibetan Work in Silver 206 

\Cibetan Children Characteristically Employed in a Gyantse Street 208 

A Tibetan Political Agent 216 

The Ta Lama at Taski-tse 218 




Monks Walking on a Terrace beneath Lines of Prayer-flags . , . 234 
The Chinese Wall across the Ammo chu at Chorten Karpo . . . 268 

The Mountains that Surround Lhasa 300 

Chak-sam Monastery 300 

The March to Lhasa 304 

The omnipresent prayer-flags and cairns beside the road to exorcise evil spirits 

The Western Gate of Lhasa 322 

Lhasa, Dominated by the Towering Bulk of the Potala 324 


The Amban, the Chinese Representative in Lhasa, Coming to Con- 
fer with Colonel Younghusband , 326 

The Chinese Representatives in Lhasa Meeting Colonel Young- 
husband FOR the First Time 328 

The Amban Coming out from Lhasa on his Way to Meet the Mission 330 

A Street Scene in Lhasa : Near the Chinese Quarter 332 

The Entrance to the Chinese Amban's Residence at Lhasa . . • . . 334 

Ornaments of a Tibetan Altar 336 

A Horn Hut 336 

The Lukang Garden 338 

The Sacred Elephant in the Lukang Gardens in Lhasa 340 

Tibetan Woods and Meadows near Lhasa 348 

The Elaborate Detail of Tibetan Architecture 350 

In the Grounds of the Lha-lu House, the Headquarters of the Mis- 
sion IN Lhasa 352 

^ Street Scene in the Wizard Community of the Na-chung Chos- 
:yong at Lhasa 356 

A Close View of the Potala 372 

The Mission Entering Lhasa 374 

The Potala, the Home of the Grand Lama 376 

The Potala at Lhasa, an Architectural Marvel 378 

The Exterior of the Jo-kang Temple, the Holy of Holies of all 
^A.SIA 384 

The Jo-kang, with the Most Gorgeous Interior of all the Tibetan 
Temples, has Practically no Exterior 386 

The Great Buddha in the Holy of Holies at Lhasa 392 


We of the Tibet Mission and its escort were honored with the 
conduct of a task which for fascination of interest could hardly 
be surpassed. Few, if any, of us doubted the wisdom of the great 
and far-seeing statesman who initiated the enterprise and in- 
spired it throughout. But, whether the policy was wise or un- 
wise, we determined that it should not suffer in the execution. 
On us, we felt, were fixed the eyes of many millions, not in India 
alone, nor in England alone, but all over Europe and America 
also, and in many an Asiatic country besides. 

We who work in India know what prestige means. Through- 
out the expedition we felt that our national honor was at stake, 
and down to the latest- joined sepoy we bent ourselves to uphold 
and raise higher the dignity of our Sovereign and the good name 
of our country: to show that not even the rigors of a Tibetan 
winter nor the 'obstinacy and procrastination of the two most 
stolid nations in the world could deter us from our purpose; 
above all, to try to effect that purpose without resorting to force. 
If, as unfortunately proved to be the case, fighting were inevi- 
table, we were determined still to show moderation in the hour 
of victory, and to let the ignorant Tibetan leaders see that we 
would respect them as we demanded they should respect us, and, 
in place of distrust, to establish a confidence between us which 
would prove the surest foundation for future relations. 

A loss of life was indeed necessitated which every one of us 
regretted; yet I for one believe that at any rate some good will 



come to the Tibetans as the result of our work. War does not 
always mean oppression. Nor does the breaking of the power 
of a despotic Government mean the down-treading of the people. 

From the first the Tibetan peasantry showed good-will toward 
us. They were especially anxious to trade— no keener traders 
could be found. We have, as one result, partially freed the 
people from the terrible incubus of priestly control, and there are 
unmistakable signs that we left them better disposed toward 
us after our advance to Lhasa than they were before. Owing to 
the magnificent behavior of the troops, the confidence of the peo- 
ple was entirely gained. Villagers and traders thronged to our 
camps. Soldiers went about unmolested in every part of the 
Lhasa bazaar. Officers were admitted to the most sacred shrines. 
Captain O'Connor, my right-hand man in dealing with the Tibe- 
tans, was received not only with real ceremony, but with real 
warmth, by the Tashi Lama at Shigatse. And, last but by no 
means least, Tibetan wool-merchants are already making ar- 
rangements for trading with India. 

How all this was effected none can tell better than Mr. Lan- 
don. He reveled in the mysteries of Tibet, and appreciated to 
the full the wonderful scenery which to my mind was infinitely 
the most fascinating of all our experiences. I have not had the 
advantage of reading the proofs of his book, and I cannot be 
responsible for any political views which he may have expressed. 
But I feel confident that no more competent chronicler of what 
the Tibet Mission saw and did could be found, and we were 
indeed fortunate in having with us one of his enthusiasm and 
powers of description. 


December, 1904. 


My dear Colonel : 

It was into the mouth of a British chieftain in the first century 
that Tacitus put a criticism which has become famous. " Men," 
protested Calgacus, " are apt to be impressed chiefly by the un- 
known," In a sense, somewhat different from that in which it was 
originally intended, this estimate has remained just to the present 
day. Spread out the map of the world and there before you is 
proof enough of one of the most marked, most persistent — perhaps 
also one of the best — characteristics of an Englishman. You are 
but the latest of a succession of explorers which has no rival in 
the history of another race. The sturdy trampings of Sir John 
Mandeville, perhaps also his even more robust imaginings— be 
it remembered, that without the latter we should not have had the 
former — have had their successors in unbroken line to the pres- 
ent day. Other nations have had their home-keeping centuries— 
years in which the needs of commerce or high politics have de- 
manded that they should for a time develop and not explore. But, 
decade after decade, the English have always had their represen- 
tatives creeping on a little beyond the margin of the traveled world 
—men to whom beaten tracks were a burden, men for whom the 
" free air astir to windward " was inevitably more than the new- 
found territory, however rich, upon which they were just turning 
their backs. 

Century after century it is the same old story. The instinctive 
tracks of voyagers in Elizabethan years; the restlessness ashore of 
merchant 'venturers the moment Blake had won for them and for 
us the peaceful occupation of the seas; the lonely dotted lines that 
drive a thin furrow of knowledge across the blank salt wastes of 
Australia ; the quick evaporation of the mists of African ignorance ; 
above all, the prosaic English place-names of arctic peak and tropical 
island and anchorage, unrevisited and unknown, except by a shore- 
line on an Admiralty chart no longer dotted as conjectural— all 



these have carried on an unconscious tradition; and there is no 
apology needed for the present story of another English expedition 
which won its way where all other living men have failed to go. 

For us the door was opened, and though it has now again been 
locked as grimly as before, at least for many months we have lived 
in the very heart of the real Tibet. The course of our expedition 
lay through no deserted wastes of sand, through which a stealthy 
or disguised European creeps painfully from water-hole to water- 
hole, avoiding the least sign of man or human habitation, learning 
little and caring to learn less of the people from whose notice he 
is shrinking. We have moved through the only populous and 
politically important districts of the country, we have made our stay 
in the centers of Tibetan life, and of necessity we were brought into 
immediate contact with that mysterious government and religion 
upon which no other European transgressor into the forbidden land 
has been able to throw the light of personal knowledge. It has 
been but a passing chance, but perhaps for that very reason the 
more interest attaches to the simplest account of men and places 
upon which the curtain has again impenetrably fallen. 

Yes, the chance has been a great one, but there is a touch of 
regret in our ability to use it. One canpot forget that the net- 
work of baffled explorers' routes which circumnavigate and sheer 
painfully off from Lhasa, represents the last of the greater ex- 
plorations possible on this earth. The barriers that guard the 
pole are of nature's making only. It is not endurance only, or even 
chiefly, that has attracted us in the past, but for the future there 
will be little else for our explorer to fight. The hostility of man, 
which has added a spice of interest to all exploration hitherto, will 
never again whet the ambition of a voyager to an undiscovered land. 

That the last country to be discovered by the civilized world 
should be one which has few rivals in its religious interests and 
importance, fewer still in the isolated development of its national 
characteristics, and none in its unique government and policy is a 
fitting close to the pioneer work of civilization ; and that the English, 
who have long been faithful servants of that restlessness on which 
all progress is based, should have done the work, is not unjust; 
and that you, my dear Younghusband, should have been chosen 
to lead this rear-guard of exploration was for all concerned a good 
deal more than fortunate. In these pages I do not intend to praise, 
or indeed lay greater stress upon your work, or that of others, than 
such as the bare narrative may of itself suggest from time to time. 


but I am none the less aware of the debt which this country owes 

to your quiet constancy and determination. 

I am, 

My dear Younghusband, 

Sincerely yours, 

Perceval Landon. 
5 Pall Mall Place, London, 

January ist, 1905. 


Writers on Tibet have acquired an unenviable reputation for con- 
cealing their indebtedness to other workers in the same field; I 
take this opportunity of saying that it would be difficult for me to 
set down the full number of those to whom I am indebted for help 
in the writing of this work. Besides the authors of all books 
on the subject, I am glad to think that there is hardly a man on 
the expedition who, consciously or not, has not added his tale of 
help to the book, and will not recognize lurking in some phrase 
or footnote a fact which could only have been given me by himself. 
Some, however, I must single out for my especial thanks, and in 
mentioning these I trust that I may not be regarded as ungrateful 
by those whose names I am compelled to omit. The actual writer 
of such a book as this is among the last to whom a reader should 
feel gratitude. 

To Sir Francis Younghusband, to Lord Curzon, and to Captain 
W. F. T. O'Connor, to Captain H. J. Walton, Lord Ampthill, and 
the late Major Bretherton, to Mr. Claude White, Lieutenant-Colonel 
L. A. Waddell, Colonel Sir James R. L. Macdonald, Captain C. H. 
D. Ryder, and Captain H. M. Cowie, to Mr. E. C. Wilton, Lieuten- 
ant-Colonels Iggulden and Beynon, Mr. H. H. Hayden, and to 
Majors Sheppard and Ottley, my obligations throughout the fol- 
lowing pages are continual and, I hope, obvious. Less patent but 
almost equally indispensable for any success has been the help I 
have received from Mr. L. Dane, Sir Edward Maunde Thompson, 
Mr. Filson Young, Mr. Herbert Blackett, Mr. A. W. Paul, and Mr. 
Valentine Chirol. I should be glad to receive any additional in- 
formation, notes, or criticisms, as I hope to make of " The Opening 
of Tibet " a work of Tibetan reference, and, in any future edition,, 
shall carefully revise the book up to date. 

> > )„ > J J ^ J 

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THE earliest historical relic of the Tibetans— like that of 
many, perhaps of most, other races — is a weather-beaten 
stone, the Do-ring. It stands in the center of Lhasa, across the 
courtyard in front of the western doors of the Cathedral or Jo- 
kang, beneath the famous willow-tree. Like Asoka's pillars on 
the one hand or the Black Stone of Mukden on the other, it both 
records a treaty and is the outward symbol of the prosperity of 
Tibet. One might also add that, like the Omphalos at Delphi or 
London Stone, it is to the Tibetans not only the center of their 
strange shoulder-blade-shaped earth, but, more practical, the goal 
from which their journeys and stages are reckoned. But the Do- 
ring is even more than this. The terms of the treaty of 783 a.d., 
now barely decipherable upon its cup-marked surface, corroborate, 
in some degree, the legendary history of Tibet so far as it can be 
found in Chinese chronicles. 

This history is not one of great interest, and may be chiefly 
dismissed as one of continued hostility with China, but of hos- 
tility on equal terms. That the result of these border skirmish- 
ings was by no means as uniformly satisfactory to China as one 
might imagine from her version of the events, is clear, for about 
the year 640 a.d. the King of Tibet, Srong-tsan-gambo, succeeded 
in obtaining the hand of a princess of the imperial house of Tang 
against the will of the emperor and after some years' fighting. 



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The story of this Srong-tsan-gambo is incrusted with incon- 
sistent legend. He appears to have been a devout Buddhist, to 
have married also a Nepalese princess, to have led an army into 
India, where, about the year 648, he inflicted a defeat upon the 
King of Magadha, from which place he carried off the famous 
image which is to this day the chief and central treasure of the Jo- 
kang. Another story says that it was presented as a free gift 
from the Buddhists of Magadha by the hand of the returning 
Tonmi-Sambhota, a minister whom Srong-tsan-gambo had de- 
spatched to India to inquire more perfectly about the Buddhist 
religion. The legend that this man introduced writing, and his 
Chinese wife several of the best-known arts of her own country, 
merely reflects the impetus given to foreign influences in Lhasa 
by the origin and travels of the two. 

Srong-tsan-gambo's grandson, Ti-srong-de-tsan, resumed hos- 
tilities with China, and in 763 actually sacked the capital, Chan- 
gan, or Hsia-Fu. Before that he also had given proof of his 
Buddhist zeal by inviting the famous Buddhist saint Padma 
Sambhava to visit his country. This was a more important mat- 
ter than it then appeared, and was destined to mold indefinitely 
the future of Tibet ; for, apart from his personal influence at the 
time, this man, known also as Padma Pani or the Guru Rinpoche, 
founded the Samye monasteries and the Red Cap school in 749, 
and eventually reappears as the central figure of Lamaism — actu- 
ally more important than the Buddha himself in its tradition and 
ritual. And it is his soul, itself a re-incarnation of that of Ami- 
tabha, the Bodisat, which is born again both in the person of the 
Grand Lama of Tashi-lhunpo, and, vicariously, as Avalokites- 
wara, in the body of the Dalai Lama or Grand Lama of Lhasa 
also. To this king Ti-srong-de-tsan must be credited more than 
military skill or religious fervor. It is clear that the position of 
Tibet as a sacrosanct center of religion is due to his recognition 
of the vast importance of Tibet as offering a permanent home to 


the faith which was being slowly but completely expelled from 
India at this time. War after war followed his death, and in 
or about 783 his successor, King Ralpachan, made with the Em- 
peror Tai-tsang the Second the treaty which is engraved upon the 
Do-ring at Lhasa. It is to be noted that the high-sounding 
epithets which the contracting parties apply to themselves already 
reflect the semi-sacred and mystic importance of Tibet. 

These dry particulars are necessary in order to understand 
much of later Lamaism, but the era of important legend closes 
with the assassination of Lang-darma, the younger brother of 
\^ Ralpachan, who had ascended the throne in 899. Lang-darma, 
who had murdered his brother to clear the way for his own suc- 
cession, is the Buddhist Julian, and the assassination of this perse- 
cutor of the faith is still annually observed in Lhasa on the 
threshold of the Jo-kang, where a fanatic monk achieved his 
purpose at the cost of his own life. From this date onward Tibet 
was divided into a large number of petty principalities, and its 
history is for many centuries obscure. Lamaism, however, flour- 
ished at the expense of the body politic, and in 1038 Atisha or 
Jo Ji-pal-den again reformed the religion of the country. In 
1206 the country was conquered by the Tartars, and in 1270 
Kublai khan recognized the supremacy of the head Lama of the 
Sakya monastery as titular ruler of Tibet, an arrangement which 
lasted until the foundation of the Yellow or Gelukpa sect by 
Tsong-kapa in the fifteenth century and the final establishment 
of the re-incarnate hierarchy of Lhasa two hundred years later. 
But before that momentous coup d'etat, the first European traveler 
had entered Tibet, and it is the aim of this chapter rather to give 
a brief account of the attempts of foreign nations to enter into 
communication with this hermit country, than to dwell at any 
length upon its internal history. 

Friar Odoric or Ordericus of Pordenone, a Minorite friar, ap- 
pears to have visited Tibet about the year 1328. He was return- 


ing from the east coast of China, by Shensi, hoping eventually to 
strike the main European caravan routes through Asia. It seems 
clear that he never reached Lhasa. Astley dismisses him as " the 
prince of liars," but some of his notes are good and interesting. 
He reports of the capital of Tibet that its walls are black and 
white ; that its streets are well paved ; that the Buddhist prohibi- 
tion against the taking of life was strictly observed there ; and that 
the Tibetans of the country districts lived, as now, in black yak- 
hair tents. The title of the Grand Lama of Sakya he gives as 
Abassi, in which a reflection of the Latin title of the chief of a 
monastery may probably be seen. 

But from that time there is a blank of many years, at the end 
of which the present regime was established by Tsong-kapa,* a 
monk from the then populous region of Koko-nor, far to the 
northeast of Lhasa. His reformations were sweeping in their 
scope, and though at this day the various sects of Lamaism are 
divided rather by tradition, ritual, and costume than by any vital 
dogmatic schism, the stricter moral code of the Cjclukpas or Yel- 
low Caps, Tsong-kapa's sect, is still to be recognized. Before the 
next European visited Lhasa, the Gelukpas had consolidated their 
rule, and in 1624 Antonio Andrada, of the Society of Jesus, 
found the chief power in their hands at Tashi-lhunpo. This mis- 
sionary was the author of the most widely known description of 
Tibet until the travels of Turner were issued at the close of the 
eighteenth century. But it is certain that his acquaintance with 
the country was limited to the western and northern parts — 
Lhasa still remained unvisited. 

The doctrine of political re-incarnation had now been fully ac- 
cepted. The first re-incarnation of Amitabha or Manjusri ^— the 
Indian synonyms are conveniently used for the chief personages 
of the Greater Vehicle of Buddhism— was Gedun-tubpa, Grand 
Lama of Tashi-lhunpo, in whom Tsong-kapa recognized the per- 

* "He of the Orion Land." ' The Tibetan name is Chenrezig. 


sonality of Padma Sambhava. Gedun-tubpa thus founded a series 
of re-incarnations near Shigatse, of which the successive holders 
made such good use that toward the middle of the seventeenth 
century Na-wang Lob-sang made himself master of Tibet. But 
he then transferred his capital to Lhasa, accepted the title of Dalai 
Lama from the Emperor of China/ built the Potala palace, and, 
most important of all, discovered that, besides being, as Grand 
Lama of Tashi-lhunpo, a re-incarnation of Amitabha, he was also 
a reappearance of Avalokiteswara. This produced a curious re- 
sult, for Avalokiteswara was an emanation of Amitabha and, 
therefore, inferior to his " father " as touching his potential man- 
hood. Thus, though the entire political power has been absorbed 
by the Dalai or Grand Lama of Lhasa, the Tashi Lama— as the 
Grand Lama of Tashi-lhunpo is commonly called— remains in 
theory his senior and superior in spiritual matters. A govern- 
ment, similar in most respects to that which is now established, 
was afterward inaugurated, the forcible introduction by the Chi- 
nese Emperor of two Ambans or Viceroys with a strong guard 
being the result of the Dzungarian raid and the occupation of 
Lhasa in 171 7. Chinese suzerainty may be said to date from 

In 1662, in the middle of Na-wang Lob-sang's revolution, the 
first European, Father Johann Grueber, also a Jesuit, reached 
Lhasa in company with Father Dorville. He left few records of 
his travels, but Astley's " Collection of Voyages " contains an 
abstract of his account of this journey. Lhasa— or, as he calls it, 
Barantola— is described as the capital of the country and the resi- 
dence of the Buddhist Pope, whose castle " Butala " reminded 
Grueber of the Rhenish fortresses of his own fatherland. He re- 
marks that the religion was essentially identical with Christianity, 

^ The title means Ocean (of learning). It has originated the perpetual "sur- 
name" of Gya-tso (expanse of water) for the successive re-incarnations of the 
Dalai Lama. ^ ^ l^:^ 


though, as he says, no Christian was ever in the country before. 
Among other remarks which are true of Tibetans to-day, he men- 
tions the feminine habits of wearing the hair plaited tightly into 
a number of small cords, of bearing the " patug " or turquoise- 
studded head-dress, and of smearing the face with kutch.* In 
1708 the Capuchin mission in India was pushed forward and four 
fathers were sent to make a settlement in Lhasa. Elsewhere I 
have sketched the career of this ill-fated hospice. For the moment 
it is only necessary to say that it was persecuted by the Jesuits and 
eventually abandoned in 1745. Brother Orazio della Penna of this 
mission acquired a perfect knowledge of the Tibetan language. 
He wrote an account of the country, which is a somewhat bald 
aggregation of facts and fancies. To him is probably due our 
knowledge of the mineral wealth of the country, and a certain 
light upon its internal dissensions during the first quarter of the 
eighteenth century. His summary of the chief features of La- 
maism is colored by the scholasticism of his own religion. 

Hippolito Desideri and Manuel Freyre, Jesuit spies, reached 
Lhasa in 1716, and stayed there thirteen years, until they were 
recalled by the Pope. The manuscripts of the former are still 
unpublished, but, contrary to general belief, they have been thor- 
oughly examined, and full extracts have from time to time been 
made from them for private use. About this time the famous 
survey of China was made under the auspices of the Jesuit colony 
in Peking. 

One Samuel Van der Putte was the next visitor. He was a 

shrewd, adventurous Dutchman, and twice succeeded in making 

his way to Lhasa. But the anti-foreign prejudices of the Tibetans 

* Grueber drew a picture of the Potala palace in his day, which is of con- 
siderable interest. In its earlier state it must have resembled Gyangtse-jong 
in the disposition, character, and stability of its buildings, and it is also clear 
that the gigantic buttress-building which sweeps sheer up the side of the 
rock from the plain to the Dalai Lama's own palace covers two deep ravines 
which are probably converted into secret treasure chambers at this moment. 
See Appendix B. 


were fermenting. Van der Putte was obliged to travel between 
China and India in disguise, and during the whole of his stay 
in Tibet and China — a period of about twelve years, 1724- 173 5 — 
was unable to compile any connected narrative owing to the dan- 
ger which surrounded him. He made his notes upon slips of 
paper, and ultimately, in fear lest improper or inaccurate use 
should be made of them, ordered them in his will to be burned. 
He appears also to have kept a small journal which was, it 
seems, destroyed at the same time. It is difficult to find a parallel 
to the loss which scientific exploration has suffered by the holo- 
caust of the entire notes of a man who was equally distinguished 
as a traveler, a linguist, and a scientific expert. 

About this time the names of three Englishmen are conspicuous 
among those who have explored Tibet. It is, indeed, almost en- 
tirely upon their notes that our information as to the interior of 
Tibet rested until the organization of the traveling Pundits by 
the Indian Survey Office comparatively late in the nineteenth cen- 
tury. Between the years 1774 and 1812 Mr. George Bogle, a 
young writer of the East India Company, Lieutenant Samuel 
Turner, and Mr. Thomas Manning— an eccentric mathematician 
and Oriental scholar— all penetrated with more or less success 
into this country of mystery. The three men represented different 
types: Bogle, as his diary shows, was, though a comparatively 
young man, a peculiarly suitable envoy for the delicate work 
which Warren Hastings intrusted to him. The Governor himself 
showed in his dealings with Tibet the same grasp and foresight 
that characterized his actions in every part of his huge De- 
pendency; he realized the importance of securing friendly rela- 
tions with a country which seemed at that time to be the most obvi- 
ous link between Bengal and the rest of Asia. He therefore sent 
George Bogle, as the accredited agent of the Company, to establish 
communication, and, if possible, improve the commercial inter- 
course between the two countries. A thin current of merchan- 


disc filtered down over the passes into India, its owners exchang- 
ing the musk, wool, and turquoises of Tibet for the rice and 
hardware of India, but it is not likely that Warren Hastings had 
any very definite intention to open up a thoroughfare to India 
from the north and east. Many years were needed to consolidate 
the British rule in Bengal, and he had difficulties enough in India 
proper to contend with without in any way inviting the inter- 
ference of outside tribes or nations. It is probable that his chief 
aim was to secure information. Nothing whatever was known 
of this particular route between India and Tibet ; the very names 
of the towns, the nature of the country, the disposition of its 
inhabitants, its products, its government, all were alike unknown, 
and George Bogle was set a task by Hastings which might well 
have daunted a diplomatist more experienced than the young and 
unknown writer twenty-seven years of age. But from first to 
last he carried through his mission with unfailing tact, and, so 
far as it was possible, with complete success. His object was not 
Lhasa. The Dalai Lama was then a boy of fifteen, and the vir- 
tual government of the country lay in the hands of the Tashi 
Lama; this man, whose name was Jetsun Poldan Ye She, has 
remained the most distinguished figure in all the list of re-incar- 
nate Grand Lamas. He was a man of commanding personality, 
of wide-minded sympathy and toleration, and remarkable, even 
beyond the confines of his country, for his courtesy and wisdom. 
To him, therefore, Bogle was sent, and making his way through 
Bhutan, he arrived at Tashi-lhunpo without serious delay in 
December, 1774. His diary and the ofi^cial report which he sent 
to Warren Hastings, by that time appointed first Governor-Gen- 
eral of India, contain by far the most judicious description of 
the life and customs of the inhabitants of this unknown country 
that has been written. He was received as an honored guest, 
and, though, indeed, he was asked not to press his request for 
permission to visit Lhasa, the favor of the Tashi Lama was 


suflficient to secure for him unique opportunities of examining 
the nature, habits, and peculiarities of this unknown neighbor 
across the Himalayas. All that could be done to promote 
friendly relations between the two countries was cheerfully at- 
tempted by the Tashi Lama, but it is clear from Bogle's own 
account that he met with considerable opposition from the rep- 
resentatives of Lhasa, even in the court of the actual ruler of 
Tibet, and the death of the Tashi Lama shortly afterward, com- 
bined with the accession to supreme power of the Dalai Lama 
in 1776, effectually put an end to any hope of an amicable under- 
standing between the two countries. Bogle's narrative will be 
quoted in the following pages, and it would be difficult to im- 
prove on the shrewd insight and steady judgment with which 
many of the peculiarities of Tibet were unerringly noted down, 
generally with some characteristic comment, shrewd or satirical. 
After the death of the Tashi Lama in 1780, followed within 
six months by the decease of Bogle himself at Calcutta, and the 
consequent failure of his intended scheme, Warren Hastings 
determined to make another attempt. Samuel Turner, his own 
cousin, was despatched at the head of a small party to Tashi- 
Ihunpo. After some delay • in Bhutan he successfully accom- 
plished the journey, traveling over the same route as that which 
had been taken by Bogle, and reached Tashi-lhunpo on the 226. 
of September, 1783. Turner, however, found that the center 
of Government had been transferred to Lhasa; the new Tashi 
Lama was an infant, and the Dalai Lama showed no disposition 
whatever to allow his visitor even to discuss the object of his 
mission. After formally congratulating the Tashi-lhunpo hie- 
rarchy upon the speedy and successful re-incarnation of the de- 
ceased primate, he took his leave. On his return to England, 
Turner embodied the result of his observations in a sumptu- 
ously printed volume, illustrated with steel engravings, which 
for a long time remained the only English printed record of 


Great Tibet, and we owe a deep debt of gratitude to Sir Clem- 
ents Markham for having given to the world, in 1875, the some- 
what more interesting and reliable account written by Turner's 
predecessor at the Tashi court. 

The third, and last, name of these three, Mr. Manning, pre- 
sents one of the most curious psychological studies in the whole 
history of travel. That he was a man eccentric in his habits 
and tastes throughout his life may be fairly argued from his 
behavior during his last years, but it is difficult to reconcile 
the extraordinary energy, courage, and fixity of purpose which 
enabled him successfully to carry through, at the utmost per- 
sonal risk, the most dangerous expedition that any man in his 
day could attempt, with the utter vacuity of the only record 
which he has left of his great and successful enterprise. It is 
not too much to say that on no single point did the recent ex- 
pedition glean a fact or an opinion of the slightest use from the 
record left by a man who, presumably for the purpose of ob- 
servation, had traveled over a route to Lhasa which for the 
most part was identical with that of 1904. .From the first day 
recorded in his journal, the 7th of September, 181 1, to his re- 
turn to Indian territory, in June of the following year, such 
notes as these constitute the main bulk of his observations: 

" I came in thoroughly wet and dried my clothes on my body. 
Afterward, upon walking across the room, I was seized with a 
violent palpitation. The insects disturbed me all night. 

" I saw a lad gnawing a turnip, and called to him immediately, 
and, showing it to my conductor, asked the name and told him 
to give me plenty of it. I thus got an excellent well-dressed 
stew with turnips." 

His account of his own behavior during the crossing of the 
Tsang-po is one which most Englishmen would have blushed 
to recall, far more to incorporate in their record of travel. 

" The reminiscences occasioned by the motion of the boat 


brought on a fit of European activity. I could not sit still, 
but must climb about, seat myself in various postures on the 
parapet, and lean over. The master of the boat was alarmed, 
and sent a steady man to hold me tight. I pointed to the or- 
namented prow of the boat, and assured them that I could sit 
there with perfect safety, and to prove to them how commo- 
diously I was seated, bent my head and body down the outside 
of the boat to the water's edge; but finding, by their renewed 
instances for me to desist, that I made them uneasy, I went 
back to my place and seated myself quietly. As the boat drew 
near shore I meditated jumping over, but was pulled back by 
the immense weight of my clothes and the clumsiness of my 
boots. I was afraid of jumping short, and having the laugh 
against me." 

The manner in which he permitted his Chinese servant to 
treat him is a revelation to those who know the East. His 
only protest against the discourtesy, insubordination, disobe- 
dience, and, at last, openly expressed contempt of his Chinese 
servant, was to fill the pages of his diary day after day, and 
week after week, with whining complaints of the man's " un- 
kindness." It will hardly be believed that, after he had achieved 
the end which he had set before him, and at last actually found 
himself inside the Sacred City, he still occupies himself with 
petty personal grievances, with long notes upon the treatment 
which he applied to his patients there, with the effect of his 
medicines, and with lengthy moral disquisitions upon the under- 
lying influences which affect all human nature alike. Until 
almost the end of his visit, with the doors of the Jo-kang open 
to him, he does not seem to have visited a single temple, and 
when at last he did so he occupied a page of his diary by a 
petty narration of his servant's incivility and his own silly con- 
duct; of the temples visited, he left no description whatever, 
and the only clear thing is that the Jo-kang was not one of them. 


Manning returned to England after this great expedition and 
lived a life of seclusion, and, it must be confessed, of eccentricity. 
Sir Clements Markham has published the diary to which refer- 
ence has been made, and it certainly possesses a very remarkable 
interest, if not as a record of observation, at least as a psycho- 
logical document which has probably no parallel in the world. 

With one exception, the record of Tibetan travel from that 
day to the present year is, so far as Europeans are concerned, 
a record of interesting and picturesque failure. That exception 
was the visit of two Jesuit Fathers, Evariste Hue and Joseph 
Gabet. Traveling by the southwestern route from China, 
through Sining, these two adventurous priests reached Lhasa 
in January, 1846. After a stay of less than seven weeks they 
were expelled by the Amban, and returned to China by the east- 
ern route through Tachienlu. The book which Hue wrote upon 
his travels in Eastern Asia is graphic and vivacious, and the 
picture which he draws of his own experiences in Lhasa is 
graphic and true; but of the natural and architectural features 
he says almost nothing, and there was wanting in him a realiza- 
tion of the intense importance, as well as interest, of his travels. 
It is true that many of his statements, which at the time were 
received with undisguised incredulity, have since received cor- 
roboration from later travelers, but Hue cannot be said to have 
added very much to our scientific knowledge of the countries 
through which he passed, and, though his narrative possesses 
a racy charm of its own which will always make it a popular 
classic in the history of missionary effort, it is greatly to be 
regretted that he did not use his unique opportunities in a 
steadier and better informed record of the national and physical 
peculiarities of this almost virgin country. 

As has been said, the record of all other travel to Lhasa has 
been a record of failure.* In the whole history of exploration, 

^ Hue gives a curious account of the supposed visit of an Englishman, Moor- 
croft, to Lhasa. Briefly stated, his assertion is that, though WilHam Moor- 


there is no more curious map than that which shows the tangled 
lines of travelers' routes toward this -city, coming in from all 
sides, north, south, east, and west, crossing, interlocking, retrac- 
ing, all with one goal, and all baffled, some soon after the journey- 
had been begun, some when the travelers might almost believe 
that the next hill would give them a distant glimpse of the golden 
roofs of the Fotala. It has often been remarked to the writer 
that this consistent failure to reach a known spot, barely 200 
miles from our own frontier, across a thinly inhabited region, 
has never yet been accounted for. As a matter of fact, the 
reason is, I think, clear enough when that region has been 
visited. Roughly stated, there is in Tibet only one way of 
going from one place to another, whether the necessity lies in 
the nature of the ground or in the inability to obtain food, 
fuel, and fodder elsewhere, and that in itself effectually re- 
duces the chance of traveling without attracting observation. 
Thanks to the extraordinary system of Chinese postal relays, 
it is absolutely impossible for a traveler to prevent the news of 
his arrival reaching Lhasa. The population of Tibet is, it is 
true, small, and it might be thought that therefore a traveler 
enjoyed greater opportunities of escaping detection. It is a fact 
that one may go, not for hours only, but for days, along a well- 
known trade route without meeting a soul more than half a 
mile from the nearest village. But this very scantiness of popu- 
lation is the undoing of the trespasser; every face is as well 
known to the Tibetan villager as the face of the local Chinese 
official, to whom, under horrible penalties, the presence of a 
stranger, in whatever guise, must be at once reported. The 

croft is supposed to have died in 1825 at " Andkou," he really reached Lhasa 
in 1826, and Hved there for twelve years undetected. Even his own servant 
believed him to be a Kashmiri. He was assassinated by brigands on his return 
journey, and the discovery of elaborate maps upon his person after death was 
the first indication to the Lhasans of his nationality. It must be remembered 
that Hue had this story direct from the Regent in Lhasa only eight years after- 
ward. The authority for the fact of his death in 1825 is a letter written by 
Trebeck, his companion. Trebeck himself died a few days later. 


merchants who pass up and down upon the road are the only- 
new faces that the Tibetan sees from year to year. High Lama 
officials may hurry through, and now and then the Chinese 
garrison of the nearest post may be relieved, but in both these 
cases there is a robe or uniform readily distinguishable by the 
villager, and he would be a daring man indeed who would at- 
tempt to thrust himself in disguise into the company of* either 
the actual, or the nominal, ruling class in Tibet. Excepting 
these two classes, every passer-by along the high road is subject 
to an unceasing scrutiny, which, it can readily be understood, 
has hitherto effectually prevented all attempts to visit the For- 
bidden City by stealth. 

We have not space to include even the briefest summary of 
these plucky but doomed enterprises, but each of the tracks that 
contribute to the tangled skein which envelops Lhasa has its own 
peculiar interest. One remembers, one after another, the light- 
hearted and purposeless raid of Bonavalot and Prince Henri 
d'Orleans in 1890, the steady and scientifically invaluable prog- 
ress of Bower and Thorold in 1891, the triple attempts of 
Rockhill — a determined American, whom every one in the col- 
umn would gladly have seen accompanying us into the city he 
had striven to reach for so many years at such a cost of time 
and labor — and the debt which geography owes to Henry and 
Richard Strachey must not be forgotten. All of these enter- 
prises have, unfortunately, not ended in failure alone, and the 
murder of Dutreuil de Rhins, in 1894, and the disappear- 
ance of Mr, Rijnhart, in 1898, remain as significant proof 
of the very real danger which has been in the past, and, so 
far as one can forecast the future, will still remain an inevitable 
characteristic of travel in Tibet. Of all these journeys, that of 
the Littledales, in 1894, was perhaps the most interesting, and 
those who knew either Mr, Littledale, or his nephew, Mr, 
Fletcher, will realize that further progress was absolutely and ir- 


revocably prevented when even these two determined men ac- 
quiesced in the inevitable and gave up the attempt when within 
70 miles of their long-desired goal. 

The work of Russians in Tibet has been watched with some 
interest from India, and the names of Przhevalsky, Roborovsky, 
Kozlov, and Pevtsov honorably recall a series of explorations, 
extended over many years, of which the pursuit and ultimate 
object were none the less admirable in themselves because they 
did not happen to commend it to the policy of the British Gov- 

These men were, of course, all Europeans. Of the secret 
surveys undertaken by the Indian Government I shall speak 

Of Sven Hedin, it is not necessary to remind the reader. 
His own gallant attempt to reach Lhasa, which occupied over 
two years, is sufficiently recent to need no further description 
at this moment. His own record — unostentatious, and bearing 
the stamp of accurate observation in every line — is still wet 
from the press, and, though his adverse opinion as to the justice 
of our expedition had been freely expressed, the regret felt by 
every member of the Mission that Sven Hedin was not with us 
in Lhasa was genuine and deep. 



FOR many years there were almost no relations between the 
English conquerors of India and Tibet; but so far as any 
might be said to exist, they were, if anything, friendly. The 
policy of isolation which the authorities of Lhasa adopted had 
been formulated first in the early years of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, and we must not suppose that even previous to that date 
the lamas would have been willing to allow strangers to come 
to their capital in any numbers. But, as a matter of fact, the 
incredible remoteness of Lhasa, and the extreme difficulty of the 
road thither, had always prevented any but the hardiest from 
even attempting the grim journey. When, therefore, it became 
obvious that European trade and European traders were going 
to flourish in the Far East, it made no great difference that the 
Lhasan authorities decided once for all that strangers were not 
welcome there. This decree, however, they did not put into 
force with extreme rigor for a long time, and it is possible that 
Bogle, so late as 1774, might after all have succeeded in over- 
coming the opposition of the Regent. 

Chinese supremacy over Tibet nominally dates from the year 
1720, and as about that time the policy of isolation was adopted, 
it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Chinese pressed it 
upon the Tibetans with the idea of making a " buffer state " of 
the most impenetrable description between their western prov- 
ince and the unknown but growing power of the foreigners in 

India. Perhaps it was not the white foreigners alone that they 



dreaded; Nadir Shah's invasion of India in 1727 must have 
been the cause of some anxiety to the Middle Kingdom. In 
any case we may fairly accept the definite statement of many 
travelers that the isolation of Tibet was in its origin a Chinese 
device. But they taught willing pupils, and the tables are now 
so far reversed that the Chinese are unable to secure admittance 
into the province even for the strangers to whom they have 
given official permission. Mr. W. W. Rockhill, than whom no 
man has earned more deservedly a reputation for Tibetan eru- 
dition, has of course long wished to visit Lhasa. The Ameri- 
can Government, on three occasions, has sent in a request to the 
Chinese that he should be permitted to make the journey, and that 
the Tibetan authorities should be compelled to receive him. The 
first promise was readily granted; the second, that which pre- 
supposed a real suzerainty over the Tibetans, they were frankly 
unable to make. They did their best : three times, as the suzerain 
power, they sent an order to Lhasa. Three times the Dalai 
Lama flatly and unconditionally refused even to consider Mr. 
Rockhill's admission.* The main responsibility, therefore, for 
the exclusion of foreigners from Tibet rests now with the La- 
maic hierarchy. But the great game of exchanging responsibil- 
ities is as well known to those Oriental hermits as it was to the 
firm of Spenlow and Jorkins. At one time the Chinese said that 
they were willing enough to allow strangers to travel freely in 
Tibet, but they deplored their inability to coerce the Lhasan 
Government ; the Lhasan Government, on the other hand, stated 
that they would be glad to see foreigners within their borders, 
but unfortunately the orders of China were imperative. Lat- 
terly, however, the Tibetans abandoned this pretense, and at 
a great meeting of the Tsong-du, which was attended by rep- 
resentatives from all parts of the country, they made a national 
vow that no stranger, under any circumstances whatever, should 
*This we discovered after our arrival in Lhasa. 


henceforth be permitted to enter the country. This vow they 
made doubly sure by annexing it as an article of faith to the 
Buddhist creed! One of Colonel Younghusband's earliest dip- 
lomatic successes was the silencing of this plea. He asked them 
whether it were indeed part of the Buddhist faith or not ? They 
answered that it was; he replied, that he knew the Buddhist 
scriptures well, and that nowhere from end to end of them was 
there one word which could justify this assertion. Retreating 
a little from their position, the Tibetans then said, " Well, it is 
not perhaps really an article of faith, but we have decided that 
so it must be." To this Colonel Younghusband naturally an- 
swered that those who could make could also unmake, and that 
if their religion were not concerned there was no reason that 
they should not at once reconsider what was a mere matter of 

Had the Tibetans confined themselves to this assertion of 
their inviolability, pur relations with the country would have 
remained as satisfactory as could have been wished. The loss 
of trade was after all a small matter, and, in any case, it was 
one which the Tibetans had every right to decide. But the 
presence in Lhasa of a single man began the trouble which 
eventually made the expedition necessary. The history of Dor- 
jieff may as well be told at once. 

About twenty-five years ago there arrived in Lhasa a young 
lama from the Siberian steppes to the east of Lake Baikal. He 
was by birth a Mongolian Buriat, but by nationality a Russian 
subject. He was born at a place called Azochozki, and was 
destined from his youth to holy orders. He came to Lhasa and 
was received into that hot-bed of sedition, the Debung monas- 
tery, where, displaying unusual ability, he ultimately became 
professor of metaphysics. In no way did he dabble in political 
affairs, and he seemed destined to spend the autumn of his life 
as a teacher. He had reached the age of fifty-two when, more 


by chance than by design, he found himself involved in high 
international politics, and entered upon the adventurous career 
of intrigue which has made his name notorious in the chan- 
celleries of Calcutta, London, and St. Petersburg. His first 
journey from Lhasa to Russia was innocent enough ; he was sent 
in 1898 to collect contributions from the faithful, of whom 
there are many communities in the southeastern provinces of 
Russia in Europe. He traveled in the country from town to 
town, and at last the Russian ministers seemed to have awakened 
to the opportunity which lay before them. 

Throughout this book I do not wish to suggest that Russia, 
in attempting to gain influence in Lhasa, was guilty of anything 
which reflects the least discredit upon her statesmen. On the 
other hand, it was a far-sighted and, from many points of view, 
an entirely laudable attempt to consolidate the Central Asian 
Empire which she believes to be her rightful heritage. The 
only reason why the British found it necessary to intervene was 
that the equally justifiable policy which they had themselves 
deliberately adopted, and their own vastly greater interests. in 
Tibet, clashed all along the line with those of the Muscovite. 
Except that we have no wish to make ourselves responsible for 
the protection and good government of this huge and unwieldy 
province, the aims of the government of the Tzar are no doubt 
those of ourselves also. On either side it has been a mere mea- 
sure of self -protection ; we happen to have been the better placed 
to achieve our end. What the Russians did in allowing Dor- 
jieff to represent them unofficially in Lhasa we should have been 
glad to be able to do, and it is a deplorable thing that the millions 
of northern Buddhists under our sway do not produce men of 
the capacity which is exhibited by a Dorjieff or a Norzunoff; 
if these men were to be found I fancy we should have used them 
willingly long ago. For these quick-witted adventurers are 
often the most effective screen which can be interposed between 


two advancing nationalities, so long, of course, as they are offi- 
cially recognized by neither. But there was no one whom we 
could oppose to the dexterity of this Buriat lama. 

He was originally best known by his Tibetan name, Ghomang 
Lobzang, but after his adoption of the position in which he has 
become famous, he is known to Western nations by his Russian 
title of Dorjieff— a name, by the way, which is merely a Rus- 
sianized form of the typical Tibetan word, which means a " thun- 
der-bolt," a " diamond," or, more important than all, the ulti- 
mate symbol of Lamaic authority, a small brass ornament, 
shaped somewhat like two royal crowns joined together by an 
inch of molded brass. Other names, too, he has; Kawaguchi, 
the Japanese traveler, refers to him as Ngaku-wang-dorje; the 
commonest name in Lhasa itself for this man was that of his 
official position, or Khende-chega, and his name appears also 
as Akohwan Darjilikoff. This list does not exhaust the number 
of his aliases, but it may indicate why the Government of India 
took some time to realize that one and the same man lay behind 
these different personalities which had, it was clear enough, 
at least one bond of union — that of hostility to British influence. 

Precisely what took place in Russia has not been made public, 
but in these days of indiscreet memoirs it is not likely that the 
true inner history of Dorjieff's mission to Russia will long re- 
main a secret. All that is known is that when he returned to 
Tibet, Ghomang Lobzang found himself in the unofficial position 
of Russian agent in Lhasa. He brought with him a large num- 
ber of exceedingly valuable presents, and he lost no time in try- 
ing to persuade the Lhasan hierarchy that it was to their in- 
terest to secure the informal protection of the Tzar of Russia. 
Briefly stated, his arguments were these: You have no strength 
in the country to resist invaders; your natural protector and 
suzerain, China, is a broken reed; even at this moment she is 
entirely under the domination of the British. If you remain any 


longer trusting to her support, you will find that she has thrown 
you as a sop to the Indian Government. The English are a 
rapacious and heretical nation; they will not respect your reli- 
gion; they will bring you into servitude, and the ancient and 
honorable rule of the priests in this country will be surely put 
an end to. On the other hand, if you will ask the aid of Russia 
you will secure the most powerful protector in the world. You 
will have gained on your side the only military power which is 
able to crush the English nation. More than that, you may be 
able to induce the great monarch of that nation to embrace your 
faith. Another emperor, as great as he, has in past ages been 
converted to our great faith, and if you can convince Nicholas, 
whose sympathies with Buddhism are universally admitted, it 
will not be long before the whole Russian race are obedient 
servants and loyal disciples of your Holiness. 

Such, in rough outline, was Dorjieff's policy. It produced 
an almost immediate effect upon the Dalai Lama himself. Im- 
petuously, without consulting his national council, he accepted 
the suggestion, and even proposed to visit St. Petersburg in per- 
son. The sacred cushion on which his Holiness should sit in 
audience with the Tzar, and a beautiful codex aureus from his 
own library, were sent at once, and will probably remain in the 
Imperial museum on the banks of the Neva as a curious and 
significant reminiscence of the great and daring policy which 
so nearly succeeded in Russianizing, at a stroke, the most auto- 
cratic and far-reaching religious empire of Asia. But the Dalai 
Lama had reckoned too hastily; the Tsong-du had still to be 
consulted, and here the Dalai Lama received a check which was 
the beginning of all the internal troubles which have hampered 
the proper management of Tibetan diplomacy ever since. The 
Tsong-du replied diplomatically that it was very nice of the 
Russian Emperor, but that they required no protection, and that 
the Dalai Lama had exceeded his authority in committing the 


country even to a consideration of Dorjieff's offer. The Grand 
Lama did all in his power to induce them to accept his scheme, 
but without avail, and the next year another ruse was adopted 
by Dorjieff to further the interests of his patrons. 

He went again to St. Petersburg, and there was received in au- 
dience by the Emperor himself; he returned after a short stay, the 
bearer of two interesting things.* One was a letter, asking that 
the Dalai Lama should despatch an envoy to Russia to discuss the 
matter more fully. The other was a complete set of vestments 
appertaining to a Bishop of the Russian Church. Later on in this 
book their importance and significance will be referred to ; for the 
moment, the political fruits of this embassy to St. Petersburg 
claim our attention. In spite of the recent declarations of the 
Tsong-du, the Dalai Lama, on his own responsibility, sent in re- 
sponse Tsan-nyid, an abbot of high rank, to accompany Dorjieff, 
who, a month after his arrival at Lhasa, was again on the road 
to Europe. The two men made their way through Nepal and In- 
dia to Colombo, where they embarked on a Russian vessel for 
Odessa. Upon their arrival in Russia they were received with 
the highest consideration, and a second audience with the Tzar 
was granted them. Ultimately they set off on their return jour- 
ney and reached Lhasa about December, 1901. They there laid 
before the Dalai Lama a proposal from the Russian Government, 
that a Prince of the royal house should take up his residence in 
Lhasa for the purpose of promoting friendly relations between the 
two countries. It may well be imagined, whether it were so ex- 
pressed or not in the message, that the Russians would have con- 
sidered it necessary that a small armed guard should accompany 
his Imperial Highness. The other document which the returning 
abbot laid before his master was the hotly discussed agreement 
between Russia and Tibet. Those who deny that a treaty was 

* It is of some interest to note that he made the record journey between 
Urga and Lhasa ; he covered the distance in ninety days. 



ever formally made between Tibet and Russia are perfectly cor- 
rect. It requires no great perspicacity to see that under the rela- 
tions then existing between Tibet and China no such treaty could 
have been valid, even if it had been made. But it was not made ; 
the treaty, the terms of which were definite enough, remained 
rather as a pledge than as an assurance ; it represented, in a per- 
manent form, the kindly feelings of the Russians toward Tibet; 
it was there to encourage the Tibetans should any difficulty arise 
with their southern neighbors; it was a comfortable guarantee 
that the Russians would encourage Buddhism in their extending 
empire of Central Asia. In return, the Russians asked for facili- 
ties which the poor people of Lhasa may be pardoned for having 
misunderstood. Concessions to construct railways must seem in- 
significant enough to a country which has not a wheel within its 
borders except a prayer-wheel ; but to the eye of the uncharitable 
European diplomatist the very mention of railways in connection 
with Russia calls up a wide field of reminiscence and implication. 
That treaty was an informal reduction to terms of an unratified 
and an unratifiable arrangement with Tibet. It was none the 
less dangerous. The Chinese officials in Lhasa were from the first 
aware of it, and at once attributed to this understanding with 
Russia the sudden insolence and insubordination with which Tibet 
continued to treat the advice and even the orders of their suzerain. 

So far as the Dalai Lahia was concerned, the treaty would have 
been signed at once, but the other authorities were imrhovable. 
On behalf of the suzerain's power, the Chinese Viceroy denounced] 
it as treason to his Imperial master ; as to the proposed residencej 
of a Russian Grand Duke, the objections of the high officials to 
the intrusion of a European among them, be he prince or peasant,/ 
were loud and universal. The Tsong-du refused to be drawn intc 
the discussion again, or to allow the Chinese Emperor's positior 
as suzerain of Tibet to be ousted by the Tzar, or by any one else! 

The Dalai Lama, in bitter anger, then adopted other tactics; if 



he could not persuade the Tsong-du to accept Russian protection 
by fair means, he was not averse to use others. From this date 
onward he was without question riding for a fall with the Eng- 
lish. To provoke aggression with India would, in his opinion, 
bring the whole matter to a crisis. The Chinese were neither 
willing nor able to interfere effectually to protect Tibet. The 
Russians were, as he believed, both able and willing, and he 
looked to compel the Tsong-du to adopt his policy by placing them 
in a position in which they had no other resort but to accept it. 
Russian rifles came into the country in camel-loads; the arsenal 
at Lhasa was furbished up and a new water-wheel put in, and 
Dorjieff, on his side, stated that the Russians would have a de- 
tachment of Cossacks in Lhasa by the spring of 1903. It occurs 
to one that there must have been a considerable body of opinion in 
Lhasa sympathetic to Dorjieff's suggestions, or he would never 
have ventured to make so daring a prophecy. As it was, however, 
he seems to have taken pains that this boast should reach Lord 
Curzon's ears. It did, and the fat was in the fire. A 

yf^ Such, then, was the position of affairs into which it became im- 
perative for India to intervene. Excuses for interference were 
ready to hand. The Tibetans had encroached upon our territory 
in Sikkim, they had established a customs post at Giao-gong, fif- 
teen miles inside the frontier, and had forbidden British subjects 
to pass their outposts there ; they had thrown down the boundary 
pillars which had been set up along the undisputed water-shed 
between the Tista and the Ammo chu. They had insulted the 
treaty rights of the British by building a wall across the only 
road from Tibet to the market of Yatung, which had been thrown 
open to trade with India by the stipulations of the Convention 
of 1890-3 ; more than this, they returned unopened letters sent by 
the Viceroy to the Grand Lama in Lhasa. These insults wouldl 
never have given rise to the despatch of an expedition if the TibeJ 


tans had not added injury to them by their dalliance with Russia.| 
As it was, there was nothing else to do but intervene, and that 
speedily. With characteristic decision Lord Curzon made up his 
mind to come to an understanding with these turbulent children, 
and in the spring of 1903 he sent hastily to Major Bretherton and 
asked him to present a scheme for the immediate advance to 
Lhasa of 1,200 rifles. But this was found to be impracticable, 
and the home authorities were as yet far from understanding the 
urgency of the matter. 

It is not unjust to say that from first to last the home Govern- 
ment had mistaken the real importance of the issue. The utmost 
that Lord Curzon could persuade them to do was to sanction the 
despatch of Colonel Younghusband, with a smair escort, to await 
the Tibetan representatives in the little post of Kamba-jong, some 
fifteen miles north of the true Sikkim frontier. This the Govern- 
ment consented to do, but they added loudly and publicly that 
under no circumstances whatever would an advance from Kamba- 
jong be permitted. This intelligence was instantly communicated 
by a gentleman in the pay of the Chinese to the Amban in Lhasa, 
and from that moment, naturally enough, the ultimate necessity 
of an advance to Lhasa itself was insured. 

The stay at Kamba-jong of the Mission was, therefore, not of 
the greatest political importance, but a brief account of it is here 
necessary. At the end of July Mr. Claude White, the Political 
Officer in Sikkim, and Captain W. F. T. O'Connor, the only white 
man who can speak Tibetan fluently, moved up the Tista Valley, 
and arrived at Giao-gong, where they were met by a small party 
of Tibetans who attempted to oppose their progress. It was 
pointed out to them that Kamba-jong had been chosen by the 
Indian Grovernment for negotiations, and that the Chinese Gov- 
ernment had assented and undertaken to co-operate with the 
Tibetans in negotiating at that place. To Kamba-jong, there- 
fore, the members of the Mission intended to proceed. Hands 


were laid upon their bridle-reins, but easily brushed aside, and no 
further active opposition was offered. They moved on that day 
to the true frontier at the Kangra Lamo Pass. On the next day 
they actually set foot on Tibetan territory and were met by a 
small Chinese official named Ho, who asked them not to go on 
to Kamba-jong; they returned the same answer to him as to the 
Tibetans at Giao-gong, whereupon he ceased all further opposi- 
tion and drowned his cares in opium. On the next day Kamba- 
jong was reached, and a small encampment was made at the foot 
of the hill on which the fort is built. This fort is an imposing 
structure, crowning, in the usual Tibetan manner, the crest of a 
sharp hill ; the plain over which Kamba-jong dominates is a wide, 
flat stretch, separated only by low hills from the main Himalayan 
ranges. This first view of the world's backbone from the north 
is, from one point of view, disappointing, because of the great 
height, i5,cxDO feet and more, from which it is seen. But the 
distant view of Mount Everest, here clearly distinguishable from 
the surrounding ice-fields, is imposing, though nearly a hundred 
miles away. The plain of Kamba is a bare stretch of earth and 
wormwood, dotted with big boulders, and here and there affording 
a scanty pasturage of coarse grass. 

The camp was pitched in two portions and earthworks were 
thrown up; small as it was, it would have been a difficult camp 
to take by storm, and here the Mission waited in patience. For 
the reasons I have just suggested their patience was not re- 
warded; emissaries did, indeed, come down from Lhasa, but af- 
ter a formal visit to Colonel Younghusband, who followed Mr. 
White after an interval of a few days, they shut themselves up in 
the jong and had nothing further to do with the Mission. At 
times a Chinese official, more out of curiosity than anything else, 
would come into the camp. Always there were a few Tibetans 
lounging outside the earthworks in mild curiosity, but the days 
went on and nothing further was done than the surveying and 


geological work of the Mission experts. Mr. Hayden, of the 
Geological Survey, was intrusted with the latter work; Captain 
Walton, I.M.S., here began his natural history notes and collec- 
tions. Mr. White roamed about the district as far as the Tibetans 
permitted him to go. Life was not unpleasant,^ but no business 
was done, and the advent of the Abbot of Tashi-lhunpo was a 
welcome break in the monotony. This typical ecclesiastic ap- 
peared bringing a courteous message from the Grand Lama of 
Tashi-lhunpo. He was an intelligent man of a superior type, and 
evinced the utmost interest in all the instruments and habits of 
the English. The gramophone was employed to impress him ; 
hereby a somewhat amusing tale hangs. This gramophone had 
been exhibited before to some Tibetan officials, who had said that 
it was not half as good as the gramophone in Lhasa. This state- 
ment somewhat paralyzed the Mission. They inquired the rea- 
son. " Oh," said the official, " the Lhasa machine will not only 
give out sounds, but it will take down and give out again our 
own voices ! " After this there was no question but that phono- 
graphs were among the European luxuries which Dorjieff had 
brought from his new masters. Something had to be done to re- 
store British credit, so by night a disk was scraped flat, and it was 
found that a fairly good original record could be made. On the 
following day, therefore, a Tibetan was asked to speak or sing 
into the machine ; this he promptly did, and after a pause of some 
anxiety the gramophone rendered back his voice, to his amuse- 
ment and delight. This record was triumphantly rendered on the 
machine to the Abbot of Tashi-lhunpo, but it was not until the 
interpreter explained the matter afterward that the growing 
stoniness of the worthy cleric's face during the performance was 
fully understood. Apparently our Tibetan, being in a mischie- 

*0n one occasion Mr. White and Major Iggulden rode up on ponies to a 
height of 21 ,000 feet above the sea. This must sound strange to many Alpine 


vous mood, had recited into the gramophone a popular Tibetan 
song of the most unfortunate description. 

One thing is worth recording: One morning the Abbot paid 
a visit to the camp and listened to accounts of the latest discov- 
eries of Western science calmly and not without interest. He 
himself suggested no criticisms until he was directly asked by 
Captain O'Connor some point in connection with the Tibetan 
knowledge of this planet. He answered courteously, but very 
decidedly, that what we English believed as to the nature of the 
earth was interesting as showing the strides which science had 
begun to make in distant parts; "but," he said, " of course you 
are quite wrong in this matter ; the earth is shaped like a shoulder 
of mutton bone, and so far from being only a small country, Tibet 
occupies nearly one-half of its extent. However, do not despair; 
if you will continue to read industriously and will read better 
books, there is no doubt that you will be learned in time." In the 
face of this I regret to have to record that our scientists collapsed 
ignominiously, and no one even attempted to justify the illusions 
of Europe. 

M^ Now and then the usual message was received : " Go back 
to Giao-gong and there we will discuss the matter; we will not 
discuss the matter while you are at Kamba-jong." On one 
occasion a small durbar was held, though Colonel Younghus- 
band entirely demurred to the social position and the political 
importance of the men who represented themselves as the Tib- 
etan delegates. He explained the whole position at full length; 
he set out the reasons which had induced us to attempt to come 
to an amicable arrangement with our neighbor; he recapitu- 
lated the events of the past few years, reproaching the Tibetans 
with having broken the treaty of 1890-3, and, finally, concluded 
by earnestly asking that the Tibetans should co-operate with 
ourselves in bringing matters to a satisfactory conclusion. In 
order that there might be no mistake his speech had been care- 


fully written out to be handed on to the Dalai Lama. At the con- 
clusion he presented the envelope to the chief Tibetan official, who 
shrank from it in horror; he utterly refused to touch it, and he 
as positively declined even to report in Lhasa the speech to 
which he had just listened ; no one, in fact, would take the respon-1 
sibility of having any official intercourse with us. 

This was the universal attitude of the Tibetan representatives 
up to the last. The following story is a curious illustration of 
it: The Tibetans once sent in an oral protest chiefly directed 
against the extended ramblings of Mr. White and others of the 
Mission. They also protested against Hay den's chipping little 
pieces from the mountains ; they said, and it was difficult to refute 
it, that we should not like them to come and chip pieces off the 
houses in Calcutta. Nor did they approve of the heliograph, by 
which they believed that we could both see through mountains and 
control the rain. But the wanderings of the members of the Mis- 
sion were what they particularly disliked. This was, perhaps, not 
unreasonable, though a certain amount of reconnoitering was ne- 
cessary in order to collect firewood, and even country produce, 
which the good people of the country were always eager to sell 
us, provided they could appease their superiors by the pretense 
that we had compelled them to trade with us. Colonel Young- 
husband, wishing in every way in his power to accustom the 
Tibetans to communicate with ourselves, asked that the request 
should be put into writing and signed. It was a very simple 
thing, and the Tibetans wrote the request without demur, but, 
to the Colonel's surprise, they point-blank refused to sign it. 
After interminable persuasion one of them snatched up a pen and 
made a little mark in the corner of the sheet ; this, when examined, 
proved to be no signature at all. The thing was so ridiculous 
that the ponies for another excursion were saddled up and 
brought to the gate of the camp, and the Tibetans were told that 
if they could not put their names to this protest the English could 


not believe that they had authority to make it. Then, and then 
only, in despair did the Tibetan officials sign the paper. This 
was a most illuminating little incident, and to the very end the 
Tibetans were faithful to the policy of which it forms so good an 

So it became evident that nothing could be done at Kamba-] 
jong, and Colonel Younghusband suspected, as was indeed the 
case, that the Tibetans had got wind of his strict injunctions not 
to advance further into the country. It then became necessary to\ 
take stronger action, and with the concurrence of the India Office 
it was arranged that he should go to Gyantse, and there make a) 
second attempt to carry through the negotiations with which h^ 
had been intrusted. 

At this point a divergence of opinion occurred; it was origi- 
nally suggested by Younghusband that two columns should con- 
verge upon the Kala tso; one with 2,500 yaks as transport should 
occupy the Chumbi Valley, and move on directly by the side of 
the Bam tso, under Colonel Macdonald, who had been at work for 
some time in Darjeeling as C.R.E., organizing the routes along 
which the Expedition was to travel; the other, consisting of the 
Mission, of which the guard was to be considerably reinforced, 
with 500 yaks, was to go across country by the Lango la ; at the 
same time, 400 Nepalese troops were to occupy Kamba-jong, and 
cover the advance of the Mission. To this scheme Macdonald, 
who now appeared for the first time, demurred; he pointed out 
that this advance in two weak columns without means of com- 
munication gave the Tibetans the opportunity of dealing with 
each separately; that the rendezvous was an unknown point in 
the enemy's country ; that the roads to it were also unknown, and 
that it was, therefore, difficult to effect a meeting at a given mo- 
ment. He further pointed out that the Mission, which would be 
the weaker of the two columns, would have to march with its 
flank exposed to the enemy and without communications in its 


rear. On the i6th of October, Colonel Younghusband, who had 
returned from Kamba-jong, seeing the uselessness of any further 
residence, met Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Macdonald at 
Darjeeling. By this time the matter was further complicated by 
the question of yak transport. The Nepalese made a present of 
500 yaks to the Mission ; these were intended to act as transport 
for the Mission in their cross-country journey; the other yaks 
were to be bought in Nepal and taken across Sikkim. Macdonald 
pointed out the dangers of attempting to take the yaks through 
the Tista Valley, and his forebodings ultimately proved to be well 
justified. But the 500 yaks which were to cross into Tibet by 
the Tipta la were turned back by the Tibetans; whereupon the 
Nepalese asserted that, in spite of anything urged to the contrary, 
the yaks could safely be taken down to the level of the Tista Val- 
ley, and the military authorities, accepting their statement, com- 
mitted themselves to this course. 

The official estimate of the distribution of the Tibetan force 
at this date is interesting ; they were supposed to have 500 men at 
Kamba-jong, where a night attack was imminent, 2000 men at 
Shigatse, 500 between Shigatse and Kamba-jong, 1000 at Gy- 
antse, and a few in the Chumbi Valley. On the 8th of November 
the Tibetans were reported to be moving 3000 men toward 
Chumbi, and a week later it was said that nearly 3000 more sol- 
diers were advancing upon Kamba-jong, a somewhat significant 
action : foot-and-mouth disease was at the same time reported to 
have made terrible ravages among the Nepalese yaks.^ For these 
accumulated reasons the advance in two columns was abandoned, 
and it was decided to advance in a single strong column through 
the Chumbi Valley. 

The question then arose, first, as to the route by which the 
Chumbi Valley should be reached, and, secondly, as to the date 
at which the retirement from Kamba-jong should be carried out. 
* This was afterward discovered to be anthrax. 


Colonel Younghusband was naturally anxious, under the cir- 
cumstances, that no retreat should be made from Kamba-jong 
until a footing had been effected in Tibetan territory in the 
Chumbi Valley. It was, therefore, decided to make the two 
movements coincident in point of time. As to the route to be 
adopted, Mr. Claude White was of opinion that the Jelep Pass 
in October was preferable. There was this to be said in its favor 
that it was already well known to us, and had been used in the 
1888 expedition. It was arranged that the original advance was 
to be made over the Jelep, but it was also decided to improve and 
utilize the Natu la route through Gangtok, and this eventually 
became the sole line of communication. By the loth of December 
there were concentrated at Gnathong two guns of No. 7 Mountain 
Battery, the machine gun of the 2d Battalion Norfolk regiment, 
two seven-pounders, half a company of the 26. Sappers, eight 
companies of the 23d Sikh Pioneers, and six companies of the 
8th Gurkhas, with the necessary hospital, ammunition, and postal 
columns. On the nth a short march was made to Ku-pup, and 
on the 1 2th the Jelep was crossed in bitter weather. On the 13th 
the column reached Yatung, and after a formal protest made its 
way through the gateway in the Tibetan wall, where a not un- 
friendly welcome was extended by the officials. On the i6th 
Chumbi was reached, and two days later a column of 800 men 
set out to Phari, which was reached on the 21st; the jong at this 
place was at once occupied by our troops. This gave rise to a 
difference of opinion between the Commissioner and Macdonald. 
The former had, for diplomatic reasons, undertaken to the Tibe- 
tans that the fort should not be occupied unless it were defended ; 
the Gieneral, for overbalancing military considerations, decided 
that it would be dangerous to leave it unoccupied, and it was con- 
sequently taken. 

The behavior of the Tibetans now became more threatening.^ 



Representatives of the Three Monasteries * arrived at Phari, and 
forbade the people round to supply us with any of the necessaries 
of life ; the Chinese Colonel Chao was willing to do all he could, 
but he evidently had little authority, and his successor, Major 0,^ 
said that nothing could be done in Lhasa at this moment, as th 
Grand Lama was relying upon Russian support and would pay 
no respect to the Chinese demands. Colonel Younghusband no- 
ticed about this time the despondency even of our own followers 
at the thought of invading Tibet. They believed that we were 
doomed men ; the whole of the drivers of the Tibetan Pony Corps 
had bolted at Gnathong, and the desertions of followers and even 
private servants were innumerable. He summed the position up 
tersely: " We have not one ounce of prestige on this frontier." 
From political motives, he determined to winter at Tuna, a small 
village about nineteen miles from Phari, across the Tang la. He 
adopted this course because of the unwillingness of the Tibetans 
to admit that entrance into the Chumbi Valley was really entrance 
into Tibet itself; and he felt it necessary to occupy a position at 
least as far advanced into Tibet as Kamba-jong had been. Gen- 
eral Macdonald found the position inconvenient from the point 
of view of transport, but the political reasons were important 
enough to decide the question. 

At Tuna, therefore, three months of weary waiting ensued 
while Major G. H. Bretherton, a man of experience and great 
capacity, was organizing supply and transport along the lines of 
communication. It was felt that a very large amount of stores 
must be accumulated in the Chumbi Valley before any advance 
to Gyantse was possible. Life at Tuna was uninteresting and 
bitterly cold. The Tibetans had gathered in considerable strength 

* The three monasteries of Sera, Debung, and Gaden, near Lhasa, are the ulti- 
mate poHtical authorities in Tibet. In very important matters they are able to 
orerrule even the Grand Lama. 


at Guru, a place about nine miles away on the road to Gyantse. 
Here for the first time the Commissioner was able to deliver his 
message to thoroughly representative men. But its reception was 
unsatisfactory. After a fruitless attempt to make the delegates 
pay him an official visit, Colonel Younghusband determined to 
ride over in person to their camp informally ; it was a character- 
istically audacious action, and if it had failed — if, that is to say. 
Colonel Younghusband and the two or three officers with him 
had been killed or kidnapped, as was not unlikely — the respon- 
sibility for the outbreak of war which would have inevitably fol- 
lowed must have rested upon the Commissioner. But Young- 
husband is a shrewd judge of Orientals, and, besides, he is not one 
of those men with whom an Oriental takes a liberty ; and, though, 
as will be seen, the visit was not entirely successful, it seemed at 
the time to be almost the last chance of coming to terms with our 
opponents upon a perfectly friendly basis. The Tibetan general 
was the senior Depen of Lhasa, one of the Lheding family, and 
he received Colonel Younghusband with great politeness. But 
upon the Commissioner's introduction to the room in which the 
representatives of the three monasteries were seated, the atmo- 
sphere became electric at once. They neither rose nor returned 
his salutation, but after an informal discussion had been initiated 
they took command of the conversation, maintaining throughout f 
an unfriendly attitude, and insisting that no European could be 
allowed in Tibet on any account, and that if any settlement was 
to be carried through we must return to Ya-tung.^ As Young- 
husband was taking his leave and expressing a hope that the 
Tibetans would visit him at Tuna their tempers changed ; in 
a threatening way they clamored for the instant retirement' 
of the British; they demanded insolently to know the exact 

* This place was sometimes confounded by the Tibetans themselves with 
Gna-thong. It is spelled "Sna-mdong," and the "s" and the "m" are of 
course not sounded. I do not know how the English pronunciation was 


date on which the British would evacuate Tibetan territory, 
trumpets were blown outside, and the attendants closed 
round the small party. Younghusband betrayed not the slight- 
est uneasiness, and O'Connor helped to save the situation 
by the almost superhuman suavity which he can assume when 
he wishes. A messenger accompanied Colonel Younghus- 
band back to Tuna to receive his answer, which was, of course, 
to the effect that he was obliged to carry out the orders of his 

The Lheding Depen subsequently called at Tuna; he was a 
pleasant man, but, in the words of the Commissioner, he was not 
clever; he had little strength of character, and he was entirely 
in the hands of his three monk colleagues. Nothing, therefore, 
had been done, and Colonel Younghusband was obliged to wait 
in the cold everlasting wind of the Tuna plateau for the first ad- 
vance of the troops. Meanwhile the Tibetans gathered strength 
in his immediate neighborhood, and from time to time there were 
disquieting rumors of their intention to make a night attack. 
Colonel Hogge, with four companies of the 23d Pioneers and 
the Norfolk Maxim detachment, was, however, thoroughly 
able to hold Tuna against any conceivable concentration of 
Tibetan forces. The telegraph wire was not put up to Tuna till 
March, so a heliograph on the summit of the Tang la was in 
daily use. 

Meanwhile, the General took up his quarters at Chumbi, in a 
not uncomfortable house at Bakcham, about three-quarters of a 
mile from the encampment at New Chumbi. The Coolie Corps, 
which Mr. White had undertaken to organize, was in working 
order by the middle of January, and under the able superinten- 
dence of Captain Souter contributed greatly to the accumulations 
of stores, which were steadily passing over the Jelep route, and 
creating tarpaulin-covered hillocks at Chumbi. The choice of the 
Natu la was accepted by Mr. White after the alternative road 


over the Yak la ^ had been tried. The Yak la is the shortest road 
between Chumbi and Gangtok, to which place a good cart-road 
runs from Siliguri in the plains of India, but to the best of my 
belief only one party ever crossed it. It was my fortune to be one 
of them. Bad as all these passes are, the eastern descent of the 
Yak la is beyond comparison the worst — a mere semi-perpendicu- 
lar scramble four miles deep, down which one could only go by 
jumping from one boulder to another ; many of these were coated 
with ice, and some crashed down the khud upon the lightest pres- 
sure. I do not think I have ever been so cold in my life as when 
I was helping Mr. White to put up a valuable self-registering 
thermometer upon the extreme summit of the Yak la. I do not 
remember what the temperature exactly was; I remember that 
when we took it out of the box it was 4° below freezing-point, 
but in the five minutes which it took us to set up strongly the pole 
to which it was to be attached, it had fallen over 30° ; there was 
a wind like a knife edge the whole time, against which thick 
clothing and poshteens were as gauze. To illustrate the difficulty 
and hardship of that crossing, it is, I think, only necessary to say 
that that thermometer still stands at the summit of the pass; no 
one has ever summoned up enough courage to go and take it 
away. The idea of using the Yak la was abandoned, and the 
lines of supply were thenceforward the Jelep and the Natu la. 
Over these no burdened beast can pass. Only on the backs of 
coolies could the precious stores be carried across, slowly and 
painfully. It was a tremendous task, and it was difficult to believe 
that day after day, week after week, month after month, obstacles 
so appalling could be overcome by the small men of Sikkim who 
composed the corps. 

Still, forty thousand pounds' weight of stores was daily deliv- 
ered in Chumbi, and Major Bretherton and Captain Souter are 

* The yak pass— pronounced Ya la. The Jelep is the "beautiful flat pass" 

and is spelled " Tges-lep-la. " 


alike to be congratulated indeed upon so brilliant an achievement. 
The road from India that these stores had traveled is worth a 
chapter to itself. Beyond all question the track that leads from 
Siliguri through Sikkim to Phari is the most wonderful and beau- 
tiful on earth. 



SILIGURI itself was of no greater interest than the rail- 
head of any expedition usually is. It is true that it had be- 
come transformed from an idle little junction, whence the toy 
train started daily for Darjeeling, into a bustling warehouse of 
military supplies. New tents sprang up in rows, tarpaulin- 
covered heaps rose like great boulders from the plain, loaded 
trucks crammed the sidings of the station, long droves of mules 
detrained and were sent off— too soon in many cases— on their 
long journey to the front. Officers reported themselves and 
went on, but the village itself remained the same dull, mosquito- 
ridden spot, which has always been avoided like the plague by 
any one whose business or duty brings him into this part of the 
world. There is an English club at Jalpaiguri, an hour's run 
away, and the inadequacy of the dak bungalow at Siliguri is 
chiefly due to the fact that no one used it. A man can get a good 
dinner at seven o'clock in the railway refreshment rooms, take the 
Calcutta express an hour later, and sleep at Jalpaiguri. Travelers 
who have looked out from the train at the scattered patch of low 
houses that spot the burnt brown grass of the plain have seen all 
that there is of interest in Siliguri. The tiny track of the Dar- 
jeeling railway runs in timidly beside the broad gauge of the 
Bengal line, and the place is only remembered by most travelers 
as the point at which they climbed into the little char-a-banc cars 
that suggest rather a child's playing at traveling than a serious 
railway which is going to deposit them and their luggage in 



Darjeeling 7,cx)0 feet up in the clouds to the north. Then Siliguri 
passes into the limbo of forgotten things, even while the train 
is making its violent little scamper across the flat to the foot of 
the hills, or leaping, catlike, from side to side of the slowly up- 
winding cart-road, pouncing upon it only to let it crawl out again 
from under the wheels of its little engine for another two hun- 
dred yards on the other side. 

But there is another journey to be made from Siliguri, a differ- 
ent journey indeed. It promises little enough at the beginning. 
One rides out from the station, threading one's way at first 
through the little houses of the town, and then dodging across 
the irrigation channels of the fields until the North road is gained. 
As you climb the slope of the low embankment and kick up the 
first hoofful of the deep dust you are on the road to Lhasa. The 
opening stage is common and dreary enough, but four hundred 
miles away this road, which you see slowly slipping below you, 
ends in a loop insnaring the golden roofs of the Potala and of the 
Cathedral, and round that loop the sad-eyed lamas, muttering 
their unchanging prayer, creep solemnly all day, turning ever to 
the right. 

Here all round is the wide flat plain, north, south, east, and 
west ; the grass is burned, the fields are dusty, and the white ribbon 
of the road swerves and straightens between the heavy-scented, 
white-flowered siris trees, like any other road in the peninsula. To 
the northward the clouds conceal the rampart of the Himalayas 
with a deep gray and indigo veil ; elsewhere the sun shines crudely 
from the hard white sky. Napil-para slowly heaves in sight, just 
where a belt of trees slants inward to the track ; a mile further on 
the road plunges into the great Baikuntpur sal forest. A country 
bullock cart, with whining wheels, jolts very slowly in front, 
haloed in a cloud of dust. The driver is asleep, and the flies settle 
spectacle-wise around the sore eyelids of the sedate beasts. In 
after days, the moaning, dusty cart, redolent of all the heat of 


Indian plains, just entering the shade of the tall straight sal trees 
with their wide, crimsoning leaves, was a curious memory in 
which the " ching-chik, ching-chik " of the spear-bells of the mail 
runners, bringing their letters over the last stage of their long 
journey, rang continually in very different scenes. Under the 
shade of the sal forest the white dust heaps itself on either side of 
the track, powdering the glossy vegetation and reducing every 
bush and plant alike to the nameless insignificance of the under- 
growth which is common to all countries in all dry seasons. For 
sheer folly the idiotic energy of a sweeper sweeping in mid- jungle 
was equaled by the inspiration of the English engineer, who 
had wasted hundreds of precious iron telegraph posts beside the 
road where nature was offering him a pole every six yards gra- 
tuitous and perfect. 

Half-way through the wood the crossing of the Phulbari Ghat 
path attracts two or three huts. At last there is a dip and the road 
drops at the eleventh mile to cross the stream into Sevoke. The 
sight of a Himalayan river reaching the plain is worth looking 
at. The Tista, pent up between narrow and precipitous hills for 
eighty miles, here bursts fan-wise over the Terai, marked and par- 
celed by long smooth banks of sand, through which in twenty 
channels the suddenly contented water drifts slowly and at peace. 

The Himalayas' southern front ends with an abruptness which 
is almost startling, and five or six miles away it would have been 
difficult to point out a fissure in the great wall of mountains which 
stands untopped across the wide flat waste of northern Bengal. 
Through this curtain there is this one narrow channel and India 
ends at its jaws. The towering cliffs, clothed suddenly with vege- 
tation wherever root-hold can be found, spring sharply upward 
and the first turn in the track by the river hides the plain, with 
their blue lines of trees fifteen miles away beside the leveled water. 
Sevoke, planted at the water-side just where the sticks of the fan 
diverge, is a little street of grubby huts. Dust hangs heavy in the 



air, and dryness dulls the leaves. The only wet thing at Sevoke 
is the water itself, as it slackens way and gently swerves outward 
at the foot of its long stair. Even the rough dug-out boats, 
moored to the pebbly bank, are coated with dust, and the lumps 
of camphor are almost indistinguishable in the boxes in the shops 
from the inevitable Pedro cigarettes beside them. From Sevoke 
onward the beauty of the road begins to grow. The track runs 
on the westward bank of the Tista, fifteen or twenty feet above 
the snow-green water. Almost from the first mile-post it is a 
gradually increasing riot of foliage such as Hooker himself ad- 
mitted to be unparalleled in the world. There is no color on God's 
palette which he has not used along this road. There is no 
variety of vegetation which he has not permitted to find its own 
place somewhere beside the slowly chilling path. Sal and gurjun 
lead on through teak to kapok and bamboo, then on through tree 
fern and rhododendron to the pine. Beyond these last, birch- 
trees alone survive among the frozen rocks of the upper snows. 
At their roots, or from the hill-side above their tops, round their 
stems, or springing from their wood is almost every flower known 
to man, here wasting its luxuriance along the loneliest and love- 
liest two hundred miles on earth. Pepper ferns, with their dark 
green glossy foliage, vines and bind-weeds, begonias and aspho- 
del tangle themselves about the undergrowth'of gorgeous shrubs, 
or stumps gay with scarlet fungus and dripping moss. Overhead 
the bald scarp of the rock, orange and ocher and cinnamon, rarely 
broke through the trailing glories of smilax and other creepers. 
Once or twice down on the road itself, where a passage had been 
blasted years ago, the deep crystalline garnet rang not only with 
the echoes of the sweeping water below, but with the tiny per- 
sistence of the drip-well from its roof. Ferns lurk in every cleft, 
and, higher up, the majesty of some great osmunda thrusts itself 
clear of the green confusion round its roots. Of greens, indeed, 
from the dark moss myrtle of some varnished leaf that ought to 


have been a magnolia, but probably was not, to the aquamarine 
of the young and dusted bamboo grass, from the feathery emerald 
of some patch of giant moss to the rich olive of a crown- vallary 
of orchid, none is unrepresented. 

Where the valley vegetation lies in the ugliest putrefaction, 
there you will find the living jewels of this long fillet— a flash of 
emerald and chrome glazed with chocolate; a patch of brown, 
shot through and through with sapphire in the sun; a swallow- 
tail with olivine and black velvet where we may rarely see, beside 
some Norfolk broad, the dun and cream of his poor English 
cousin. Strong in the wing, zigzagging unballasted in ten-foot 
swoops of pure color, the butterflies lace the sunlight. And un- 
derfoot in the deep soft white dust the kidney footmark of the 
brown ox or the kukri-like print of the high-instepped native are 
the only reminders in that hot world of color that there are other 
things as graceless as oneself. 

At Riang, where the road falls into the river every year with 
a regularity worthy of something better, a stream breaks through 
from the west, and for a moment the dingy picturesqueness of a 
semi-Indian settlement beneath its trees drives back the beauties 
of the road. But in half a mile the path turns again beneath close 
matted branches overhead and winds, deep rutted, beside the rank 
dark vegetation which is characteristic of just this place — flower- 
less, amorphous, and heavy. The Tista bridge swings out its 
curve from behind a rock, and one crosses the narrow span, re- 
alizing from its scanty width that one has left behind the normal 
limits of wheeled cart traffic. The road, still ascending, keeps on 
the left bank of the Tista river, passing Mali-ghat among its trees 
three miles on. Slowly the character of the vegetation changes, 
though the fact of its being still tropical is clear enough from a 
tiger trap half-way between Mali-ghat and Tar Kola. Beside this 
latter place the road runs along tirelessly, curving and recurving 
beside the shallow stream. At the junction of the Tista with the 



Rang-po the creaming white crests over the rock points below 
vahantly hold their own all day against the down sweep of the 
green turquoise flood. Sometimes for a mile one does but hear 
the stream of the Rang-po murmuring invisibly through the 
trees; again over its very waters the track clings scantily round 
the bare red scarp of some intruding spur, hand-railed most rot- 
tenly. A warm breath of guimauve-like scent pants out at one 
here: there is the sweet acrid perfume of wild geranium, more 
taste than smell. The fierce glare of the day sinks imperceptibly 
into a cooler and a steadier light; there is no sign of sunset yet 
awhile ; only the high crowned ridges of the western heights break 
his force. And presently the dust on the patient road-side foliage 
seems half shaken off, and tints and shades creep out on surfaces 
which the blatant heat of midday had frightened into an insignifi- 
cant blur of neutral colors. 

Here the cactus stops for a while, why, I do not know : there are 
. many puzzles in this Himalayan botany. Why does the rhodo- 
: dendron grow to the very highest spot on the south and refuse 
to put forth a leaf at any elevation to the north? Why does the 
blue poppy of Tibet despise utterly the identical rocks and ledges 
offered at the same height south of the Tang la? Why does the 
bamboo stop with a certainty and cleanness at a height of 9,500 
feet on the south, which enables the Bhutanese to use it as their 
frontier mark, while two hundred miles away on a hillside at 
Lhasa a flourishing twenty-five-foot hedge keeps the cold from 
the Chief Wizard's house, nearly 13,000 feet above the sea? 

You will cross the bridge at Rang-po ; and there you will stay 
the night, sleeping under mosquito nets for the last time. The 
stream you have just crossed you will meet again under very dif- 
ferent circumstances, but some suggestion of the clear emerald 
of its ice-bound pools at Lagyap still lingers as it joins the snow- 
stained waters of the Rang-po. Still going on, your path lies on 
the left bank of the latter river, chiefly bound up against the side 


of the river cliff. Six miles will take you to the last river 
that you will have to follow till Tibet is reached. The Rong-ni 
is, after all, the most beautiful stream that you will have 
tramped beside. Here the two vegetations mingle, and the orange 
groves of Dowgago mark the transfusion of the two. Here the 
maples and the violets begin, the geraniums and the daphnes, 
the lobelias and the honeysuckles, the ivies and the elder- 
trees — the first outposts of the European zone. But we have 
not yet lost the creepers and hydrangeas of the south before 
the first azalea-like rhododendrons bear promise of the shrub 
that, towering at the 7,000-foot line to eighty feet in height and 
dwindling again to three or four inches on the pass, will remain 
with us till the frontier line is crossed. Here the bamboos in- 
sinuate themselves at last, and as the road sweeps up and up, the 
undergrowth rising here and there into the magnificence of the 
tree fern, every corner betrays a fresh scene of luxuriance and 
grace. Sometimes the bank opposite rises steep as a precipice 
and red as an old English garden wall, veiled with overhanging 
creepers and rich with green moss in every crevice and on every 
ledge : elsewhere the bank breaks away into a wide slope of tan- 
gled jungle, clothed with small ponds of greenery where the need 
of the dotted white huts has cleared, leveled and sown. Here the 
first tender rice tips peep above the mud. Round the echoing, 
waterworn curves of rock overhung by trees and screw-pines, 
hanging on, God knows how, to the bare face of the rock, cross- 
ing some small stream rustling under its canopy of shade, still 
mounting every mile, the track goes on, until the last bridge is 
crossed and the long splendid zigzags of the new road to Gang- 
tok, which no one uses, seam the hill in front. The barest novice 
knows the short cuts, and with your ears cracking every twenty 
minutes, you clamber up the old stony road, which saves two miles 
in six. At last the Residency, or rather the foliage which con- 
ceals it, seems less hopelessly distant than it did, and coming out 


again upon the white, well-made road, one climbs at an easy gra- 
dient to the capital of Sikkim. On the left is the deep green cut- 
ting of the river we have crossed, a league in width and lost be- 
hind a ten-mile distant corner. The double Residency gates open 
and shut behind one, and through the tree ferns and the dying 
bamboos of the drive* one emerges into the English roses and 
clean, short turf of Mrs. Claude White's home-made Paradise. 

The Residency brings a whiff of England into this far distant 
country. It is a substantial and handsome little building of stone, 
roofed in red of such a well-remembered tint, that it is some time 
before one realizes that tiles are impossible at Gangtok. Hitherto 
it has been the end of all northern travel in India, and it must 
have been curious for the rare travelers who made demands on 
Claude White's famous hospitality, to find this dainty gem of a 
house, furnished from Oxford Street within, and without en- 
circled with the tree ferns and orchids of this exquisite valley. 
It is a perfect spot. Far off to the west rise the pinnacles of Nur- 
sing and Pan-dim ; to the north there hangs in heaven that most 
exquisite of all peaks of earth, Siniolchu. 

Beyond Gangtok, before the Expedition came, there was no 
road. Indeed, a road wide enough for carts was finished only 
eighteen months ago up to the gates of the Residency. Further 
on, it is still a bridle track hugging the side of the hill, barely 
thrusting its way through the dense wall of bamboo which rises 
on either side like the green walls through which Moses led his 
flying countrymen.^ Overhead the giant rhododendrons branch 
upward to the sky, high as a London house. No one who 
knows the rhododendron of England can form the faintest con- 
ception of what these monsters of the upper hills are like. The 
trees at Haigh Hall and at Cobham are regarded by their own- 

* All the bamboos of the Gangtok district fertilized and died in 1904. 

•The color, too, contributes to the fantasy, for here the blue-leaved Hooker's 
ba^iboo grows more freely among its commoner brethren than anywhere else 
in the Himalayas. 


ers with some complacency. But in size they are mere shrubs 
compared with their brothers of Sikkim, and in beauty they are 
left far behind. " I know nothing of the kind," says Hooker, 
" which exceeds in beauty the flowering branch of rhododendron 
argenteum, with its wide-spreading foliage and glorious mass 
of flowers." This variety, though it does not grow to the height 
of its brethren, is the finest of them all. The enormous glossy 
leaves, powdered with white underneath, are thrown with a care- 
less grace around the splendid blossoms, arranged with all the 
delicate looseness and lightness which none but the Master 
Gardener could give to this royal and massive foliage. The ac- 
tual florets of the commoner kinds are undoubtedly poorer than 
those of the English variety, and there is an ineffective conical 
arrangement of their azalea-like blossoms which the Englishman 
notices at once. But in their masses, crimson, lemon, and white, 
they star the dark green steamy recesses of the path, and, except- 
ing only the magnolia, are the most striking flowers upon the 

These magnolias are strange plants. They seem to turn 
color as they reach the limit of their growth, and the pure white 
is lost in a tinge of purple. Unlike the magnolias which occa- 
sionally overpower the scents of an entire rectory garden in 
England, the waxen flowers grow on naked lilac stickery. The 
wide, enameled leaves, which seem so indispensable at home, 
are gone. I do not know whether they appear later, but the 
magnolia seems to be outside ordinary rules of plant life. One 
species has even the depressing habit of dropping its flowers 
unopened on the ground below. Oaks grow here, though in 
a chastened way. An English tree which takes fuller advantage 
of the rank vegetable mold and steamy hothouse climate of Sik- 
kim is the juniper. This, which is best known to the inhabi- 
tants of towns in the shape of " cedar " pencils, grows to a 
height of forty or fifty feet, and Mr. White has, on two occasions, 


made an attempt to develop a regular trade with the manufac- 
turers. They admitted that the wood sent was as good as any 
they could buy, but the contracts they had entered into for the 
supply of this wood bound them for some years to come. An- 
other industrial product of this jungle is madder, and the dark 
crimson robes of both Tibetan churches, Red and Yellow alike 
— for the distinction is shown only in the cap — owe their rich- 
ness to the hill-sides of Sikkim. Elephant creeper winds up the 
forest trees, the huge leaves nuzzling into the bark all round 
like a swarm of gigantic bees. The common white orchid, which 
is wired to make a two-guinea spray in London, is a weed at 
Gangtok. Its quaintly writhen blossoms of snow hang over- 
head in such profusion that one welcomes a shyer blossom, 
trumpet shaped, and of the color and coolness of a lemon-ice. 
The orchids are not the only epiphytes ; other parasites than they 
crown the living branch with their coronals of leaves, more 
lovely than the trees they feed upon. 

The game here is very scanty : the reason is not uninteresting. 
For, dormant or active, visible or invisible, the curse of Sikkim 
waits for its warm-blooded visitor. The leeches of these lovely 
valleys have been described again and again by travelers. Un- 
fortunately the description, however true in every particular, 
has, as a rule, but wrecked the reputation of the chronicler. 
Englishmen cannot understand these pests of the hot mountain- 
side, which appear in March, and exist like black threads fring- 
ing every leaf till September kills them in myriad millions.^ 
Spruce grows here under a Latin name, and the writer enters 
thereupon a layman's protest. It takes away half the interest 
of new and tropical vegetation if the only names that one can 

*It is worth a passing note that these unwelcome visitors can be driven 
from the nostrils of the cattle exactly as MacComglinney enticed the "law- 
less beast " from the throat of King Cathal. A bowl of warm milk at the cow's 
nose, a little slip-knot, and a quick hand are all that is required. Fourteen 
or fifteen have been successively thus taken from the nostrils of one unfor- 
tunate heifer. 


be told for some magnificent or graceful thing are Latin atro- 
cities, generally embedding some uncouth Teutonic surname. 
In a country like Sikkim one's resentment is doubled; when a 
good English word lies ready to hand, why should it be nec- 
essary to call the spruce tree abies excelsa, or, worse still, Smith- 


Leaving Gangtok, the last reminder of the West, one strikes 
out east by north to make the final climb which takes us out of 
the Empire. For five miles the road is— or rather, until the 
rains came, was— a good one. Beyond that, in spite of much 
hard work of pioneers and sappers, the track is bad indeed. 
Karponang,^ when I returned through it for the last time, is 
a far-stretched hamlet, lying in long tiered sheds against the 
mountain wall, and the last pretense of a road along which a 
wheel can go is here frankly abandoned. Beyond it is a section 
of the road which for months was the despair of the engineers. 
"The tenth to the thirteenth mile " passed into proverbial use 
as a standard of utter badness and instability. When the road 
was cut out of the rock it was too narrow for the easy passage 
of a loaded beast; where it was cut out of the hill soil, a night's 
rain sent it down the khud. Where it crossed a cataract, the 
bridge gave more trouble than a quarter of a mile of honest 
rock. Where, as it too often did, it jutted straight out on bam- 
boo brackets from the side of the cliff, 800 feet above the whis- 
pering stream below, the bamboos used to rot with a rapidity 
unknown elsewhere. Landslips were the rule rather than the 
exception. The whole length was sprayed with continual rivu- 
lets through the rank vegetation which overhung the track; 

*The name Karponang was suggested for the ten-mile stage by the 
writer. From a perilously insufficient knowledge of Tibetan, karpo seemed 
to mean " white " and nang was clearly a " house " ; and as some shorter title 
was needed for the political officer's bantling, Karponang stuck, though it is 
not, perhaps, a particularly idiomatic rendering of what it was intended to 


all afternoon these washed away the mold with which the bald 
sharp rock-points of the blasted road were covered; all night 
they formed a coat of ice which made it impossible for man 
or beast to stand or go upon it. Accidents upon this stretch 
were painfully common; two men were killed by a dynamite 
explosion, though in common fairness to even this unfortunate 
exhibition of nature, she can hardly be held responsible for the 
folly of men who dry their dynamite at a fire. Four men were 
overwhelmed here by a gush of liquid mud, just when three 
weeks' hard work upon the road at that point was finished. One 
man slipped down, or maybe he was kicked — for the mules 
disliked this " trang " with almost reasonable intuition— and the 
loss of mules near Karponang was heavier than anywhere else 
upon the road. On a winter afternoon a mile an hour was good 
going along this stage. Any attempt to ride was out of the ques- 
tion ; painfully prodding one's way with a khud-stick, one scram- 
bled up or glissaded down over the unfenced ice-slides thinly 
veiled with dirt. One's beast was led behind one with mincing 
steps and starting eyes. It was a bad road; and the noise of 
waters many hundred feet sheer below was always painfully 
present in the ears. Lagyap was the next halting-place, hanging 
over the gulf like an eagle's nest. 

Beyond Lagyap, the road, as a road, did not exist. The 
ascent was tolerably steep, and one either strode from boulder 
to boulder, or trod, at the risk of one's ankles, between the stones. 
This, after five miles, is wearisome work. And even the sight 
of Lagyap Pool, the most beautiful basin of ice-bound emerald 
water that I have ever seen, fails to cheer one up. Up under 
the pine-trees, slipping and staggering, where no road pretended 
to have been ever cleared, we reached Changu Lake at last. 
Here we were clear of trees ; the dwarf rhododendrons ran along 
the ground in acre patches, a foot in height, but the last tree 
barely showed its head over the great natural dam which shuts 


in the waters of the lake. One leaves a land of timber; one 
comes to a land of rock, and the dividing-line is as clean as if it 
had been the work of man. Behind us, also, we left one of the 
most magnificent views in the world, for the deep green valleys 
of Sikkim, like some loosely thrown length of myrtle-green 
velvet, lie out for the last time many thousands of feet below, 
stretching on till the gray gauze of sheer distance overtook the 
tint, and only the pure, clean argent of those Himalayan snows, 
which have no rival on this planet, lifted themselves into the 

It is an austere country into which we are now moving. 
The lake is a mile long and perhaps 6cx) yards in width; nearly 
all the year round it is frozen, though in the bitterest days of 
mid-winter, when the thermometer is nightly going down to 
5° or io° below zero, there is always on the southern side of 
the lake an unfrozen pool. The cliffs sweep down into the basin, 
bare and unlovely. To the east, whither our road still is to run, 
the nakedness of a steep ascent of wearisome boulders is barely 
qualified by the stunted rhododendron growth. At Changu 
there is now a comfortable bungalow, and only those in dire 
necessity will fail to stop the night. The hardest work of all 
the road to Lhasa lies before us on the morrow, and though I 
have more than once passed through from Chumbi without a 
halt, there is no doubt that the exertion can only be justified by 
real urgency. Leaving Changu in the morning, the traveler, 
considering the very short way he knows he has to go, will 
demur at the earliness of his start. But there will be no mercy 
shown him. He will be allowed, perhaps, to ride for 500 yards ; 
after that he will prefer to trust to his own feet until all except 
the last three miles of the stage have been covered. Climbing 
over these boulder-strewn surfaces would be bad at the sea-level ; 
here, where the air is so thin, it soon becomes a burden to pull 
one's solid body over the heartless obstacles. If the ascent be 


at all steep, the newcomer will sit down every twenty or thirty 
yards. His muscles are not tired, and he regains his strength 
in a surprisingly short time, but at the moment he sinks upon 
some friendly stone he thinks that another step forward would 
be his last. This is a peculiarity which it is impossible to de- 
scribe to those who have never been more than a thousand feet 
or so above sea-level. The lungs seem foolishly inadequate to 
the task imposed upon them; the pluckiness of one's own heart 
is an unmistakable, but somewhat terrifying, symptom, for it 
goes on beating with increasing strokes till it shakes the walls 
of the body; and not the written testimony of the leading 
heart expert in London will convince you that it is not on the 
point of bursting its envelope. Then you may be thankful indeed 
if you escape mountain sickness. If that should come upon you, 
your bitterest enemy will lead your horse for you. I have seen 
cases of mountain sickness in which amazement overwhelmed 
even one's sympathy. I have seen men in such a state, that they 
seem to have every symptom of habitual drunkenness; all the 
limbs shiver, and in the bloodless face the eyes have that ex- 
traordinary look of insanity which is, I think, caused by an in- 
ability to focus them. The speech comes with difficulty, and in 
one case that I saw the mental coherence was as obviously at 
fault as the physical. But, strange though the appearance is 
to the outsider, for the sufferer himself I do not suppose that 
there can well be condensed into three or four hours such an 
agony of aching. The brain seems cleft into two, and the wedge, 
all blunt and splintery, is hammered into it as by mallet strokes 
at every pulsation of the heart. Partial relief is secured by 
a violent fit of sickness (which, however, is not always forth- 
coming), and through all this you have still to go on, to go on, 
to go on. 

Here, too, the wind exacts its toll, and drives a cold, aching 
shaft into your liver. This is no slight matter, for the toil of 


climbing is excessive, and the exertion of covering half a mile 
will drench a man with perspiration. He then sits down, and 
this strong wind plays upon him to his own enjoyment, and 
to the destruction of his lungs.^ 

Up one still goes till the lake lies a mile behind one, still un- 
touched by the first rays of the dawn. Often a steep descent 
as treacherous to the foot as the ascent has to be made. One 
of the most tedious and tiresome things about this track is the 
wearisome necessity, which awaits you round every corner, of 
losing at a stroke two-thirds of the advantage that you have 
just won by an hour's hard work. It appeals to the mind, and 
shortens the temper at a time when any friction in the human 
microcosm is waste of strength. One resents the man who first 
pointed out the track. One is inclined to think, that had one 
only a few hours more, one could oneself find a far more 
economical path than that by which one is now obliged to go. 
This, a very common failing, as I have noticed myself, perhaps 
indicates that one's common sense also is a little affected in 
these high altitudes. Two miles from Changn is the only level 
portion of the day's march. One goes across the little plain, 
and makes for exactly the one point which a stranger would 
decide to be the most impossible in all the amphitheater. 

The Sebu la is beyond question the most difficult point of 
all the road from Siliguri to the end, a sheer wall of precipitous 
rock, springing up from the level plain. On looking closely 
one can see some symptoms of a zigzagging road climbing up- 
ward, and by those zigzags you have to go, for the rock itself 
allows no other path. This is the most heart-breaking climb 
of all the day. You may, perhaps, here overtake the slow, 
painful tramp of the coolies sent on, even before your own ris- 
ing, from the last stage; pack animals are impossible on a road 
like this. The strange thick-calved, patient men, carrying bur- 
* Pneumonia caused more deaths than any other disease. 


dens which no EngHshman would shoulder, move steadily on- 
ward over their six-mile stage.^ 

One climbs at last to the crest of the Sebu la. One goes 
thirty yards round a projecting rock, and at once one is obliged 
to scramble as best one can down a declivity which lands one 
400 feet below the level of the little plain from which one 
has climbed to the top of the Sebu la. It all seems so unneces- 
sary, so wanton. At the bottom, one crosses the bed of a river 
closely packed with rough and heavy water-worn rock, but no 
stonier than the road leading down to it on either side. There 
is still another steady rise to the heights of the Natu la. One 
seems to have wandered in a vast amphitheater of rock and stone 
for days. The homely bungalow at Changu has faded among 
the recollections of another year, and you are wise if you do 
not ask how loQg it will still take to climb to the summit of 
these weary hills. Just about this time, you begin to realize 
why Tibet has remained a shut-up country for so long. The 
transportation of an army and, what is far more wonderful, 
its daily supply across the water-shed between the Tista and the 
Ammo chu will probably remain an unrivaled feat of transport 
and supply in the history of warfare. In old days, marches, 
which would to-day be regarded as impossible, were somehow 
carried out. But we have never been told the loss of life that 

*The weight that these Central Asian coolies can carry is astounding; the 
ordinary load is from 80 to 100 pounds, nearly double a man's pack on the level 
plains of India. But these Bhutias, when paid by the job, do not hesitate to 
double and even treble the load. I have myself seen a man carry into camp 
three telegraph poles on his back, each weighing a trifle under 90 pounds. Fur- 
ther east the tea porters of Se-chuan are notorious and loads of 350 pounds are not 
unknown. Setting aside the story of a Bhutia lady who carried a piano on 
her head up to Darjeeling from the plains as too well known to be likely to 
be exact, the record seems to be held by a certain Chinese coolie who under- 
took, in his own time, to transport a certain casting, needed for heavy ma- 
chinery, inland to its owner. The casting weighed 570 pounds, and the carriage 
was slowly but successfully accomplished. 

An English bricklayer is forbidden, by the rules of his union, to carry more 
than 14 pounds. 


accompanied the ultimate arrival in India of Genghiz Khan, 
Alexander, or Nadir Shah. But the road dips downward for 
the last time at the half-way stage, and we are free to make 
the best of the remaining clamber which lies now uninterruptedly 
before us to the pass. 

Much has been made of the added horrors of ice and snow. 
As a matter of fact, bare-footed though the coolies are, it was 
a merciful relief for them when the snow lay packed into 
a kindly carpet blanketing the boulders under foot. The 
only difficulty then was said to be that of losing the road. 
Only those who have been over the Natu la can quite understand 
the grim foolishness of speaking of losing the road over it. 
It is true that there is a track. Probably that track, so far as it 
can be distinguished from the hill-side, above and below, repre- 
sents as good a means of getting to the top as any other. But 
so far as the ground is concerned there is almost nothing to 
choose; and not the least remarkable thing is the steady persis- 
tent refusal of the coolies to use the easy zigzag path which has 
been made for them over the last 200 yards to the top. It is 
roughly true to say that no hill coolie will deign to use an easier 
path than that which goes straight to his journey's end, though 
one might have expected that after a long and wearying climb 
over this heart-breaking mountain-side, the chance of an easy 
and steady climb for even so short a distance would have been 
eagerly accepted. 

We have now reached 14,300 feet, and before we climb the 
last remaining steps, it is worth while to turn back and watch 
for the last time the scenes through which we have come so 
painfully. Away to the left a gigantic bastion of rock carries the 
sister road over the Jelep la, and away to the southwest Ling-tu, 
on the crest of the 6,000 feet precipice up which the road is 
zigzagged, can be seen in the clear air. The Jelep Pass itself 
is hidden by the bulk of the range, though only three miles 


away. A little lake lies frozen in the stony bowl up the sides 
of which we have just come. Far below its edge falls another 
mighty hollow, and yet we do not see a blade or leaf. Only 
beyond and below, peering through one of the little crevasses 
in the ringed hills, there is the dark mantle of the Sikkim woods. 
One turns one's back upon it for the last time, and gains the 
summit, where three heaps of stones, piled by pious travelers, 
support a flagged bush, the usual ornament of every pass in 
the country. One takes another step, and one is in the Chumbi 

The first sight of Tibet, thus seen, is not without a somber 
interest of its own. It is at once obvious that the general level 
of the country is very much higher than that of Sikkim. The 
mass of Chumolhari fills in the end of the valley. Glittering in 
the bitter air, it rises thirty-five miles away, though the richer 
aquamarine of its crevasses can be seen from where we stand. 
The ridges and ranges swarm between, intersected with the 
courses of rivers invisible. All is bare and dull, but a thousand 
feet below us the dripping pines send their single spies up toward 
the barren and unlovely path. 

There is something fascinating about the very sight of this 
long, slow line of burdened men, in spite of the miserable cold 
that almost prevents your watching anything. Up there, high 
above the most venturesome pines, where only the dwarf rhodo- 
dendron, two or three inches high, survives here and there be- 
neath the shelter of a friendly rock just piercing the two-inch 
snow that fell last night, the laden team crawls slowly to the top. 
The green and golden lichen spreads over the dull and bitter 
crags of gneiss, and under foot the tense stiff bents of frozen 
grass prick themselves scantily through the dirty ice. Up hither 
the coolies thrust their way painfully, and the thick, duffle-clad 
figures in a long line zigzag up the side of the pass, swaying 
from side to side under their burdens as they gain a bare foot- 


hold on the blunt rocks; the sky is overcast and this vivid cold 
searches through everything, in spite of the thick winter cloth- 
ing which has been liberally supplied. Butterflies, birds, and 
beasts are alike fled. Only a lammergeier floats still in the air 
some 300 feet below, wheeling slowly with motionless wings, 
and far down in the gulf there is a scurry of lavender snow 
pigeons. The pass itself is nothing but elemental rock, and the 
Indian file of men drops down again as quickly as it can into the 
stiller cold of the sheltered side of the peak. One goes down. 
At first lichen and stunted moss alone mask the coarseness of the 
huge boulders ; lower down the scarlets and reds of the barberry 
and a few stunted bushes of feathery juniper, as high as one's 
hand, come up as forerunners of the fast-thickening vegetation 
of the gorge. Two thousand feet below the pass, while one is 
still sliding and scrambling over frozen washes of curving ice 
across the track, the silver firs and stunted junipers crowd beside 
the zigzag path that still leaps from rock to rock. Of under- 
growth there is but little, even when the mountain-ash and silver 
fir have given place to the Pinus excelsa and a silver-gray variety 
of the deodora, and the air is heavy with warm resin. Behind, 
fifteen miles away on the Sikkim side of the pass, the dull roar 
of blasting may perhaps remind one of the wide ten-foot road 
which the Government are still intending to throw across this 
terrible sierra. 

The coolies still crawl upward and over. Compared with 
the western face, the descent of the Natu la on the Tibetan 
side is a comparatively easy thing. The road soon runs at a 
gentle gradient over the spurs which buttress the precipices that 
frown over Sikkim, and after a mile you may, if you come in 
winter, get thankfully upon your pony once again. The track 
runs straight and level along the mountain-side, and you may 
wonder why the engineers have corduroyed the road. There 


seems so little reason for this fearful waste of time and timber. 
But if it is your luck to retrace your steps when the rains are 
in full swing, you will wonder no longer. 

There is no end to the devilish ingenuity with which Nature 
has strewn this path with obstacles. That one which hitherto 
we had hardly found was waiting us after all. And you may 
have to get wearily off your pony once again to pick your way 
unsteadily from rock to rock, in a sea of mud which defies de- 
scription. Two feet deep, black, stinking, slippery, your pony 
has to make the best of it. And once in every ten paces you too 
will sound it to the knee. Not a mere stretch of a quarter of a 
mile is this disheartening morass; before the transverse logs 
were laid there were five miles of this unending slide and slip 
and splash to be overcome. Corduroy itself is no luxurious 
floor. Your beast will like it only a little better than the quag- 
mire he has scrambled through. The wood is slippery, and 
though the ribbing of the road prevents a long slide it insures 
a short one at almost every step. 

The path on the bare mountain-side, bad as it was, is better 
than that which threads the close pine trunks of Champi-tang. 
Torrential rain may wash a path away, but nothing so entirely 
ruins a made track as the drip from trees. There is something 
about the slow persistence that does harm which even a water- 
spout could not compass. And if by this time you have any 
spirit of curiosity left in you, you may notice that the corduroy 
work upon the road coincides with those very parts, which at 
the first blush you might consider most protected by foliage 
overhead. It is getting late now in the afternoon, and you will 
thank your good fortune in having as companions unfeeling men 
who made you rise at five. The worst is over, and you can 
stumble along at more than two miles an hour. The hill-sides 
opposite become clothed with forestry, and after an hour or two 


you will find yourself before the blazing hearth of the luxurious 
bungalow at Champi-tang. 

On the following day, you go down to Chumbi. You make 
your way along a greasy path, now passing underneath a lonely 
little shrine, half hidden by the trees, now emerging among the 
bared, charred trunks of the pine army which was burned three 
years ago. Doubling the spurs again and again, you make your 
way at a fairly level altitude, until a Bhutia-tent marks the 
division between the official main road by the Kag-ue monastery, 
and the short cut over the hills to Chema. Down the first you 
elect to go. The road is longer, but the road is easier, and you 
have not yet acquired either the mental attitude or, what is 
more important, the muscles of a hill man. Through junipers 
and birch you pass out to the bare hill-side, and descend sharply 
to the monastery. 

This is a curious place. It is the most important religious 
community in the valley. It is a special favorite with the Dalai 
Lama, and when, some years ago, owing to certain scandals 
which were, unfortunately, too well known in the valley to be 
disregarded, the older monastery in these parts was broken up, 
the lamas were permitted to build a far more magnificent tem- 
ple within a mile of the scene of their misdoings. Service is 
going on as you enter the courtyard. They will pay no attention 
to you if you go into the shrine itself — that is, the monks will 
not. Only the acolyte children will gaze, round-eyed, at the un- 
known white men, while their mouths still move with the shrill 
and simple cadence of the chanted office. Now and again a 
bell is rung, or a drum beaten with the sickle-shaped stick. Once 
in a while the long, eight-foot trumpets emit a ponderous blast 
of discordance. Tea is handed round continually, and the chant 
pauses now and again to allow the presiding lama to monotone 
a passage from the Buddhist scriptures. At the further end, 
in the darkness, lighted by the pale beads of butter-lamps, sits 


the gilded image of Gautama, half-hidden by " katags " or 

Leaving the monastery, the track flings itself down the steep 
sides of a hollow, and at last comes out upon the good and 
welcome level of the Chumbi road. We have almost reached 
the end of the first stage of the long journey. 



BEFORE the coming of this Mission, no white man had ever 
seen the Chumbi Valley. 
The women of Chumbi think a good deal of themselves, though 
to the eye of the stranger there seems very little distinction be- 
tween the stunted and dirty little people of one part of Tibet and 
those of another. The head-dress used by them is the usual tur- 
quoise-studded aureole of the province of Tsang. The outer and 
possibly only garment * is of the same very thick crimson dun 
cloth, tied round the waist with a string and fastened at the throat . 
with a plain yoke-like hasp of silver. This dress is generally 
patched, until it is difficult to say with certainty which part of it 
is the original garment, and it is of course open to more objec- 
tions than the presence of inanimate dirt alone presents. The 
shoes worn reach up to the knee, and are made of the same dark 
red cloth, variegated over the instep by a streak of scarlet extend- 
ing down to the toes. Here the plain tanned yak hide incases it. 
These shoes are not uncomfortable, though the entire absence of 
any heel makes it necessary that a little practice in them should 
precede a long or a difficult tramp, otherwise the Achilles tendon " 
is apt to make a violent protest. In face, the men and women are 
strangely alike. Neither here nor elsewhere in Tibet do the men 
grow mustaches or beards ; the utmost that one ever sees is a thin 
fringe of scanty hair marking the lips or pointing the chin of a 

* These ladies seem to use their outer dress as their dessous when torn and 
worn beyond decent use. A girl at Bolka had apparently two such under- 



high official. It cannot be claimed that Tibetan ladies look beau- 
tiful. It is, of course, difficult to say what the effect would be if 
some of them were thoroughly washed. As it is, they exist from 
the cradle, or what corresponds to it, to the stone slab on which 
their dead bodies are hacked to pieces, without a bath or even a 
partial cleansing of any kind. One could imagine that they were 
of a tint almost as dark as a Gurkha, but this is by no means the 
case. In spite of the dirt, wherever the bodies are protected by 
clothes the skin remains of an ivory whiteness, which is indis- 
tinguishable from that of the so-called white races. At times 
also accident, perhaps in the shape of rain, has the effect of re- 
moving an outer film of dirtiness, and then it is quite clear that 
Tibetan girls, until they are two or three and twenty, have a 
complexion. Of course the habit of the race, of besmearing the 
forehead, cheeks, and nose with dark crimson kutch, which 
blackens as it dries, militates against any display of beauty. The 
origin of this strange custom is, like most facts and theories about 
Tibet, the subject of hot dispute. Some contend that it origi- 
nally marked the married women only: some will have it, and 
there seems some evidence in their favor, that this disfigurement 
was intentionally introduced in order to save the ladies of Tibet 
from the sin of vanity, and incidentally, also, to reduce the 
chances of young men's infatuation. The third and more prosaic 
explanation is that it is done to mitigate the glare of the sun from 
rock and snow.^ This would be a more convincing reason, if 
the kutch was actually worked into the hollow of the eye, and on 
the eyelid ; but these are left unstained. Two other reasons, also 
of a flatly contradictory nature, have been suggested to explain 
this custom of Tibetan women, but there does not seem any ne- 
cessity to accept either view. One thing must in common fairness 

* Mr. Talbot Kelly recommends essentially the same thing for use against 
the glare of Egypt. The Sikkim coolies pull their hair over their eyes in a 
curtain for the same purpose. 


be said, and that is, that nowhere in the world will you find such 
exquisite teeth in men, women, and children alike as in Tibet, 
though it is beyond dispute certain that no tooth-brush, or any 
form of cleansing them, has ever been practised, or indeed known, 
from one end of the country to the other. 

Prayer flags in Tibet are the commonest possible means of in- 
vocation. The " airy horses " printed upon long perpendicular 
strips of limp tarlatan, or rather butter muslin, about twelve 
inches wide, are nailed to the pole, from twenty to thirty feet in 
height. These fringes stand out in the wind, till they are frayed 
back to the very nails, or tear themselves loose in ragged stream- 


Among the private convictions of Sir Isaac Newton was the 
singular belief that prayers went to Heaven by vibration. It was 
not, perhaps, one of the most demonstrable theories of that great 
man, and very little stress has ever been laid upon this curious 
idea, though I believe it underlies the almost universal use of in- 
cense as a symbol of prayer. But your pious Tibetan would have 
understood Sir Isaac in a moment; to him, movement is prayer, 
and no inert petition finds its way to the ear of the gods. The 
turning of a prayer-wheel, whether in the hand, or by the agency 
of water, wind, or fire, is the best illustration of this. The pere- 
grinations round the Ling-kor or the Jo-kang at Lhasa are other 
examples of an acted prayer. Attention is not necessary; merit 
is acquired, whether the mind be fixed or not, and Claudius' tru- 
ispi, " Words without thoughts never to Heaven go," would be 
scouted as foolishness by the piety of this land. Nor would the 
Lamas be inclined to agree with the counsel which deprecates 
repetition, for some of the larger prayer-wheels contain the sacred 
mantra, " Om mani padme hum," repeated to an extent that al- 
most defies calculation. Very thin sheets of paper made from the 

*In Lhasa itself a peculiarity is noticeable. The prayer flags there 
are tightly bound in to the pole. 


Daphne Cannabina, as thin as Oxford India paper, are printed 
with symbols of this invocation as closely as the space permits. 
Many hundreds of sheets of this paper are compressed into every 
inch within the great revolving tub. The contents remain in a 
tight, hard block, even if the outer covering is broken. A prayer- 
wheel eight feet in height may contain this same mantra about a 
hundred million times. Every revolution of a wheel like this adds 
considerably, therefore, to the credit side of the Tibetan's account 
in Heaven. So easy is it to add a thousand billion or so of these 
ejaculations to one's account in a five minutes' visit to the near- 
est gompa, that the plain mind of the Occidental wonders why, if 
all this is really necessary, the Tibetan does not accumulate his 
merit in this easy fashion, instead of wandering all day long, un- 
economically twisting in his hand the comparatively inefficacious 
hand wheel, or moving the still less expeditious lips. But here 
we soon learn to leave behind us all the logic of the West. A 
thing is so in Tibet because it has always been so ; research is not 
encouraged ; progress is a form of heresy. 

Galinka lies at the foot of the great dam which once fell across 
the waters of the Ammo chu and made a lake where now the 
plain of Lingma-tang stretches itself. This is a curious feature 
of the valley. One climbs 200 feet up from Galinka by the side 
of the sprawling torrent and at last reaches a piece of turf about 
a mile and a half long, a quarter of a mile wide, and as flat as 
Lord's. In the rainless months the turf grows here short and 
thick, and provides the best grazing of all the valley. It would 
be easy to make some arrangement for the draining of the plain 
in the rains, but, as it is, from the end of July onward, Lingma- 
tang is a mere swamp, overgrown indeed with luxuriant vegeta- 
tion and bright flowers, but, from a more practical point of view, 
a useless nuisance. Through this plain, in the curves of a tortured 
worm, the Ammo chu winds and rewinds itself. When the ex- 
pedition first crossed the plain the rocky sides of the containing 


hills were bare of all but the seemingly dead trunks of birch, and 
the hardly more lifelike blackish-green of the pines. A scanty 
and thorny brush filled in the interstices among the boulders just 
where the steep hills stood knee-deep in the plain, but that was 
all. The " vleis " of South Africa, which have been formed in 
a similar manner, will offer the best suggestion of the exactly 
perfect surface — then covered with brown, burnt grass, cropped 
short by sheep, and, as we once discovered, by shao also. At the 
southern end of the valley the forest comes down close to the 
plain, and one leaves behind the treeless level to be engaged at 
once among the junipers and pines of the last stage of vegetation 
which at this great altitude the valley of the Ammo chu can show. 
The thorny shrubs cease as if by magic when the road has reached 
the upper part of the rocky slope which has to be scaled before 
the road begins again an even ascent by the side of the stream. 
The silver firs come down thickly to the very edge of the water, 
and under their shade the track runs between moss-covered rocks 
some twenty feet above the water, which here falls in a torrent 
from boulder to boulder, pausing only when delayed by the frost, 
which hangs great combs of ice from every gray dead fir athwart 
the stream. Junipers and a few twenty-foot rhododendron trees 
take advantage of the shelter of a turn in the range of hills just 
where the stone breast-work of Tong-shong crosses the road. 
The heavy, resinous smell of the pines harmonizes well with the 
carpet of dark-green moss which sprawls at will over the seamed 
rocks of Indian red and sienna. The mountains, 2,000 feet over 
our heads, barely allow the road to squeeze between their gigantic 
Symplegades. Five miles beyond the end of Lingma-tang the 
road crosses the torrent twice and one comes out over a stony 
patch and a carpet of brown pine needles into a little clearing, 
where a heavy fall of grayish-black granite warns the traveler of 
the strange characteristics of the road for the next two or three 


Some years ago — ninety or a hundred, perhaps, if one may 
judge by the size of the largest of the trees growing among the 
debris — a Himalayan convulsion shattered vertically the eastern 
side of the hills which hem in the tumbling river on the west. 
They now stand stark, austere, and perpendicular a thousand feet 
above the roadway and the stream. No trees crown their sum- 
mits, not a bush can find root-hold on their granite faces. But at 
their feet a long, continuous buttress of granite, torn rawly from 
its matrix by the shock, forms a ramp 200 feet in height below the 
crannies and clefts of the gigantic curtain overhead. This ramp 
is composed of boulders varying in size from mere splinters of 
granite, which have been used wherewith to metal the bridle-path, 
to one great giant at Ta-karpo or " White Rock." This is one 
of the most prominent features of the Chumbi Valley. There are 
in it over 70,000 cubic feet of stone above the level of the debris 
over which the road goes, and on which the Chinese post has been 

The name of this rock must have been given years ago. 
When this granite is newly exposed to the air it is of a vivid, 
crystalline whiteness. Such granite is not, perhaps, to be found 
elsewhere in the world. For not only is it incomparable in 
color, but its hardness almost defies dynamite; the explosion of 
the charge does not cleave the boulders, it merely breaks out 
great craters from the stone. The stone darkens rapidly on 
exposure to the air, and the sparkling purity is soon hidden 
under a film of dull grayish-black. Beside this sloping terrace, 
crowned only with birch and juniper, the river rushed between 
frozen banks. Sometimes there was only a narrow channel 
left in the middle, and one could see the three-foot balks of 

^ The use by the Tibetans of the stored warmth of the sun in these vast 
blocks of stone is quite intentional. The vegetation immediately surround- 
ing this great rock showed the stimulating power of the accumulated heat, 
slowly surrendered all the frosty night by the fallen monster. To this may 
also be due the constant use by wayfarers of the natural shelters formed by 
hollows under projecting rocks. 


ice which hedged the water in, and listen to the quiet " seethe " 
with which, now and again, a thin detached layer of ice be- 
gotten of last night and astray upon the current mounted and 
came to rest upon the thickening, greenish mass below. It was 
just like the prickling crackle of a glazier's diamond. Some- 
times the ice extended from shore to shore, broken here and 
there by some whirlpool which had defied the cold, or some spirt 
of water where the stream flowed too viciously over a rounded 
stone to be entirely caught by the closing-in grip of the frost. 
It was a wild scene, and very soon the limit of vegetation, which 
is here about 13,300 feet, was apparent a little way up the hill- 
sides. Birches are the last to go. 

Another sharp climb brings one to the last phase of the 
Chumbi Valley. This, indeed, is different from all the scenes 
through which we have passed. A promontory, now being 
avoided by the work of pioneers, gave us a view of the bare 
plain of Dota ahead. To the east a frozen waterfall, nearly 
a hundred feet in height, was the rallying-point of our attention. 
It was a gigantic, irregular pillar of ribbed ice, through which 
the evening sun played with the colors of a Pacific shallow. 
But this was the last example of abruptness. From that point 
till the Tang la rises gently beneath the ice-bound crags of 
Chumolhari, on all sides the hills sweep down gently to the 
stream or valley, bellying, brown, grassy slopes — for all the 
world like Sussex downs tilted together at an angle. There 
was not on all that waste of formless and almost naked rock a 
stick of vegetation a foot high. Only little dead bents of aconite 
prick up still brown and innocent. Nothing else breaks the 
monotony of the finger-long blades of coarse low-lying grass. 
I do not suppose that in all the world you could find a contrast 
so great as that which meets the eye at Dota during your stage 
from Gautso to the plain below the pass. From Dota to the 
Tang la, and indeed on northward for three thousand miles, ex- 

Outfitted to cross the high passes of the Himalayas in July 


cept for the fertile alluvial flats which hem in the rivers of south- 
ern Tibet, this scenery remains monotonous, waterless, heart- 
breaking. One has said good-by to the Himalayan landscape with 
a suddenness that can hardly be conceived, and from this point 
onward the track winds round the easy curves of hills or picks 
its way along the flat, stubbly plains till, as one turns the last 
corner beyond Kamparab, Phari Jong comes out from behind 
the last spur on the left and dominates the distance, a square, 
grayish block of keep and bastion and parapet commanding 
the converging highways of three States, and itself humiliated 
by the overhanging 10,000 feet of Chumolhari's rock and ice. 

The town of Phari deserves more than a passing notice. The 
name — which in Tibetan is spelled " Phag-ri," or the " pig- 
hill " — has been explained in many ways. The small mound on 
which it is built may, or may not, have been shaped like a pig, as 
the inhabitants say. The name may or may not have some refer- 
ence to the pig goddess who is re-incarnated by the shores of the 
Lake of Palti as the Dorje Phagmo — the Abbess of Samding. 
There is a third explanation, which the lamas of the monastery of 
Chat-sa, four miles away to the north, say is self-evident, but 
of that later. The Jong itself is clearly of Chinese-plus-Euro- 
pean construction. Its date, as ascertained by papers at Lhasa, 
was said by the two Jong-pens, or fort commandants, to be 
about 1500 A.D. ; it is, indeed, impossible to assign it to a date 
later than 1600, and the assertion of the custodians may well 
be true. A well-constructed stone parapet eighteen feet high, 
with corner bastions, surmounts a low hill about twenty feet 
in height. Above this, occupying the center of the hill, stands 
the keep, about fifty feet in height and a hundred and twenty 
wide, of several stories, and irregularly bastioned, or rather 
buttressed. The fort lies square to the points of the compass, 
each side of the parapet being about no yards in length. The 
peculiar features in its construction conclusively prove that the 



place was built in unreasoning imitation of some European 
model, for the little machicolated galleries which bestraddle 
the corners of the outer bastions are entirely useless. Nothing 
could be dropped from them, as they dominate precisely the 
points at which no sane commander would deliver an attack. 
Moreover, they are of the flimsiest construction, and, at present 
at any rate, do not even possess floors. Inside, the Jong is dark, 
badly constructed, and, to some extent, positively dangerous, as 
the seeming solid walls are actually thin skins of granite ma- 
sonry filled with rubble. In many places one skin has fallen 
and the interior beams are supported wholly upon the other. 
Quite recently a large part of the northern wall has completely 
fallen. A certain amount of armor, both of iron and bamboo, 
was found in the Jong, but every weapon of modern construction 
had been carefully removed to the north or buried. 

It is, however, the town of Phari which will remain longest 
in the memory of those who have seen it but once. The head- 
quarters mess of the escort to the Mission included several men 
whose experience of the outlying places of the world it would 
be difficult to equal round another table. But by common con- 
sent Phari was the filthiest town on earth. This is a charge 
not infrequently made against other towns, so it may be worth 
while to justify the right of Phari to that bad eminence. First, 
let it be said in fairness that there are more than a few reasons 
why the inhabitants of this town are of necessity dwellers in 
dirt. To begin with, Phari, at a height of 15,000 feet, is the 
highest town worthy of the name in the world. The cold is 
consequently fearful, a nightly temperature ranging in Feb- 
ruary rather downward than upward from — 3° F., being often 
joined with a merciless grit-laden cold wind from the north. 
Cold is admittedly an excuse for dirt, but it is not cold only that 
palliates the filth of Phari. At this altitude the least exertion 
brings on breathlessness and apathy. To put on a pair of boots 


and gaiters is often a serious exertion for the new-comer, and it 
is not, perhaps, to be expected that the good people of Phari should 
go out of their way to secure by unwelcome activity a sanitation 
and cleanliness which appeal to them as little as to other Tibetans. 
Indeed, any others of that uncleanly race would, under similar 
circumstances, attain an equal degree of dirt. The absence of 
trees, compelling the wretched people here to use argol or dried 
yak-dung as their only fuel, is another contributory cause. The 
heavy, greasy blue fumes of these fires coat the interior of the 
squat houses with a layer of soot which it would be useless 
labor to remove. Unfrozen water is almost non-existent, except 
during the summer, and, so far at least as the women are con- 
cerned, the dirt which seams their faces is not perhaps unwel- 
come, for, as we know, custom compels the disfigurement with 
, kutch (or raddle resembling dried blood) of the brows and 
cheeks of women in Tibet. 

Having thus pleaded the cause, I have now to explain the 
results of this want of cleanliness upon the town of Phari. 
The collection of sod-built hovels, one or, at most, two stories 
in height, cowers under the southern wall of the Jong for pro- 
tection against the wind from the bitterest quarter. The houses 
prop each other up. Rotten and misplaced beams project at 
intervals through the black layers of peat, and a few small 
windows lined with crazy black match-boarding sometimes dis- 
tinguish an upper from a lower floor. The door stands open; 
it is but three black planks, a couple of traverses, and a padlock. 
Inside, the black glue of argol smoke coats everything. A brass 
cooking-pot or an iron hammer, cleaned of necessity by use, 
catches the eye as the only thing in the room of which one sees 
the real color. A blue haze fills the room with acrid and pene- 
trating virulence. In the room beyond, the meal is being cooked, 
and a dark object stands aside as one enters. It is a woman, 
barely visible in the dark. Everything in the place is coated and 


grimed with filth. At last one distinguishes in a rude cradle 
and a blanket, both as black as everything else, an ivory-faced 
baby. How the children survive is a mystery. It is the same 
in every house. Nothing has been cleaned since it was made, 
and the square hole in the flat roof, which serves at once to 
admit light and air, and to emit smoke, looks down upon prac- 
tically the same interior in five hundred hovels. 

But it is in the streets that the dirt strikes one most. Let it 
be said at once that in the best quarter of the town, that in which 
the houses are two-storied, the heaped-up filth — dejecta and re- 
jecta alike— rises to the first-floor windows, and a hole in the mess 
has to be kept open for access to the door. It must be seen to 
be believed. In the middle of the street, between the two banks 
of filth and offal, runs a stinking channel, which thaws daily. 
In it horns and bones and skulls of every beast eaten or not eaten 
by the Tibetans — there are few of the latter — lie till the dogs 
and ravens have picked them clean enough to be used in the 
mortared walls and thresholds. The stench is fearful. Half- 
decayed corpses of dogs lie cuddled up with their mangy but 
surviving brothers and sisters, who do not resent the scavenging 
ravens. Here and there a stagnant pool of filth has partially 
defied the warmth, and carrion, verminous rags, and fur- 
wrapped bones are set round it in broken yellowish ice. In the 
middle the brown patch is iridescent. A curdled and foul tor- 
rent flows in the day-time through the market-place, and half- 
bred yaks shove the sore-eyed and mouth-ulcered children aside 
to drink it. The men and women, clothes and faces alike, are 
as black as the peat walls that form a background to every scene. 
They have never washed themselves. They never intend to wash 
themselves. Ingrained dirt to an extent that it is impossible to 
describe reduces what would otherwise be a clear, sallow-skinned, 
but good-complexioned race to a collection of foul and grotesque 





" Dirt, dirt, grease, smoke." Thomas Manning's concise de- 
scription of Phari as he knew it on the 21st of October, 181 1, 
holds to this day, and the cleaning up which went on inside the 
walls of the great buttressed fort after our arrival provoked no 
imitation in the foul streets and grimed turf-built hovels at its 

And the disgust of all this is heightened by an ever-present 
contrast, for, at the end of every street, hanging in mid-air above 
this nest of mephitic filth, the cold and almost saint-like purity 
of the everlasting snows of Chumolhari — a huge wedge of ar- 
gent a mile high — puts to perpetual shame the dirt of Phari. 

The Jong-pens, or twin commandants of the fortress, had 
trimmed their sails with some dexterity under the stress of this 
breeze of foreign influence. They had served us not unfaith- 
fully, a fact which they had doubtless kept from the knowledge 
of those far Lhasan authorities with whom their correspondence 
was neither confessed nor unknown to us. For their reception 
of the English into the fort — an occupation which every suc- 
ceeding week more fully justified — the two Jong-pens were cere- 
monially degraded at Peking. This, however, is the East. At 
the request of the very Power whose reception had caused their 
disgrace, they were at once, with equal formality, reinstated 
in their dignities of the crystal button and the backward-slant- 
ing peacock feather — avowedly for services rendered to the Eng- 
lish. What wonder if these two worthy men were a little be- 
wildered as to their duty! Nor was it clear to them on which 
side their bread would ultimately prove to be buttered. With 
gratitude they accepted the offer of a monthly salary of 50 rupees 
apiece during our occupation of Phari; with foresight they de- 
clined to accept any money from us until after the expedition 
was over. Asked whether they believed that we should be un- 
successful, they smilingly put the question by. But, they said. 


there were many and powerful forts lying between us and Gy- 
antse, and though the Pilings— they ought not to have used the 
word to us— were beyond question a mighty race, who could 
foresee the future? They accepted the invidious position with 
a good grace, and, on the whole, after a preliminary attempt 
to smuggle cattle over the near Bhutanese frontier, they acted 
with apparent integrity. 

Such was the road along which the toilsome preparations for 
the advance crept slowly to the storehouses of Chumbi and Phari 
from the plains of India. Through all the tedious months neces- 
sitated by this provision for the future, Brigadier-General Mac- 
donald, with the exception of one or two expeditions up and 
down along the line of communication, remained at Chumbi. 
Meanwhile, Colonel Younghusband, with the members of the 
Mission, remained pent up in the wretched little houses which 
cower beneath the hills of Tuna from the eternal blast which 
drives the grit under foot along the open frozen wastes of Tuna. 



ALL preparations were ready by the last week in March, 
±\. and on the 26th Brigadier-General Macdonald started 
from Chumbi. His first march brought him to the small wooded 
plain of Gautso, where a strong little camp had been maintained 
for some time. It was the last halt below the upper limit of 
trees, and for the last time we enjoyed here an unlimited supply 
of fuel. The next day the force pushed on to Phari, where a 
day's halt was made to compose the column finally for the ad- 
vance. On the following day a short march was made to a 
camping-place on the bare plains one mile short of the Tang la. 
It was a bitterly cold spot, utterly unprotected in any way, and 
the two slight valleys which meet here acted as funnels for the 
wind that blows everlastingly across these frozen plains. On 
the 29th of March,^ the camp was struck early. Chumolhari 
rose overhead, veiling its vast icy slopes with thin, half-frozen 
cloud. From behind it the sun rose coldly, forming, by some 
curious series of accidents, the most beautiful and complete white 
rainbow that any of us had ever seen. There is something 
about a white rainbow which is not entirely different from the 
plumage of a white peacock. If you look closely you will find 
that the structure of the missing bands of color remains almost 
unchanged, and in this perfect half-circle of the purest white 
one could almost imagine the ghostly lines of division between 
the customary tints. For twenty minutes it arched over the 
* Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. 


valley running up westward toward Pahamri, and vanished 
slowly as the long line of the expedition moved out of camp. 

It was a bitter morning; the promise of the sun was betrayed, 
and, as we ascended the last furlongs of the southern slope, the 
cold came down upon us again with bitter intensity. Crossing 
the Tang la into Tibet proper was a terrible experience. The 
frozen mist, laced with stinging splinters of ice, was blown hori- 
zontally into our faces by the wind which never sleeps over this 
terrible pass. Men and animals alike were stiff with an ar- 
mor of ice, and beards and even eyelashes were, powdered and 
hoary with the fine particles of frozen mist. It was difficult 
to see fifty yards away, and it would be difficult to form a just 
idea of the hardships which no human activity can ever hope 
to remove from the highway leading on to Lhasa. 

Slowly creeping on against the blizzard, the long line of ani- 
mals and men moved into and out of the narrow radius of one's 
sight, demi-cloaked with ice. About eight o'clock the sun gath- 
ered enough power to melt the frost in the air, and an hour 
later, looking up from the mist which rose like steam from the 
plain, one could see the clear white top of Chumolhari sailing 
against the thin light clouds of the upper air. We had crossed 
the frontier. Half an hour later the plain was clear to the hori- 
zon, and we trudged on against the wind and over as forbidding 
a floor as exists on earth. It was grit and pebbles all the way. 
There was not the slightest hint of even the dead brittle shrubs 
. of wormwood that gave promise of greenery on the plain of 
Phari. Two streams, hard bound with ice, lay across our path, 
and Tuna was not to be seen till we were almost upon it. When 
it at last came in sight it seemed a strange place, indeed, for 
the residence of a British Commissioner for the whole winter. 
Backed by arid sand-stone dunes 600 or 700 feet high, its only 
outlook is toward the snow-fields, peaks, and glaciers of the 
dividing range between Bhutan and Tibet, culminating to the 


west in the gigantic mass of Chumolhari. There had been no- 
thing to do all the winter. There was little game to shoot, and 
the only walk, unless one climbed the hills at the back of the 
post, was "there and back again" across the accursed frozen 
waste. As we came near, the houses which the Mission had 
originally occupied appeared. They are squalid in the extreme, 
and one could well understand that Colonel Younghusband and 
his men had early preferred to brave the cold of the winter in 
their tents. 

On our arrival we had luncheon with the Mission — these were 
the days before the stores began to run low — and a surprisingly 
good luncheon it was. We heard the latest news. The Tibetans 
had been watched for some days; they had built a wall across 
the road at a point between six and seven miles to the north, 
and there was no doubt that, besides the force (then estimated 
at about a thousand men) who were manning this defense, 
large bodies of Tibetans were also busy on the other side of the 
Bam tso. From the old narratives of the eighteenth century, 
one had expected to find this lake within sight of Tuna, and 
it is quite clear that at no very remote period Tuna itself was 
almost washed by its waters. But not a sign of them was now 
to be seen, though the short cut to Lhasa through the La-tse 
Karo la, just visible across the plain, proved how recently the 
ground had at any rate been a swamp by the wide curve which 
it took before it started northeast, from the posting-station and 
village of Hram.* 

A typical day followed. From the earliest dawn till after sun- 
set, a piercing wind swept the camp from end to end with a 
liurricane of tingling grit, and the discomfort of the men was 
increased by the device which Brigadier-General Macdonald 
adopted to deceive any Tibetan scouts who might be lurking 

^This village is supposed to give an alternative name to this sheet of water. It 
appears as the Hramtso on many maps, but without any real justification. 


among the hills which hemmed in the plain to the west. All 
tents were struck and the men received strict orders to con- 
ceal themselves. Captain Ottley, after a reconnaissance with 
his mounted infantry, reported that the Tibetans had tempora- 
rily retired from their wall, and from the string of sangars which 
led upward from its western end over the spurs of the neigh- 
boring hills. But as they had returned in full force by the 
morning of the 31st, it is more probable that they were driven 
away, not in any belief that the Mission had retreated, but 
simply because even the Tibetans found the discomfort of the 
day unbearable. 

At twenty minutes past eight on the 31st the column moved 
out. About a mile and a quarter of the road ran eastward im- 
mediately under the high spur to which I have referred. Then, 
turning sharply to the north, it makes its way five miles to the 
little promontory and ruined house between which the road 
runs. Here, as we could see two miles away, the Tibetans had 
built their defenses. On the plain itself, the wall ran from the 
spur to the house, constructed in the shape of four redans with 
narrow openings between them. On the left hand the hills, 
grassless and stony, rose steadily until the saddle joined the two- 
thousand-foot ridge three miles away to the west. Here there 
were seven or eight sangars. But to our right a clear space 
of three thousand yards of level plain stretched between the end 
of their poor little defenses and the nearest swamp bordering 
the far but just visible waters of the lake. The fatuity of the 
Tibetan scheme of defense would, one thinks, have been manifest 
to a child. No attempt whatever to block this space was made. 
The truth is that the whole project had been conceived in Lhasa. 
The authorities there were guided by an obsolete map, or possibly 
by a mistaken remembrance of the locality, and the general who 
came to conduct operations had no authority to select another 
field for his defense. The fact that the lake had retreated about 


two miles from its ancient shore was a matter of which the 
lamas in the capital were either ignorant or careless. 

We tramped steadily across the plain — a mere continuation 
of the Tuna plateau, frozen deep, and barely supporting the 
scanty growth of thistles that pricked up here and there through 
the patches of still lying snow. Everything under foot or in the 
distance was gray and colorless. You will understand more 
clearly the scene of the coming incident if you will remember 
the bitter frost-laden south wind blowing all day with increas- 
ing strength beneath a hard ash-gray sky. 

Just when the Tibetan wall had become clearly visible in 
the distance, a messenger, riding forward in haste, announced 
the coming of the leading men of the defending force. The 
Lheding Depen himself was in the field, and he, accompanied by 
his brother general from Shigatse, the late Commandant of 
Phari, and Gesur Yeshe Wang-gyuk (the representative of the 
great Ga-den monastery), ambled quickly across the plain, and 
an informal conference was held between the military and po- 
litical chiefs on either side. It was merely a repetition of the 
same old story. Coached from Lhasa, the delegates had no 
power, if, indeed, they had the wish or saw the necessity, to 
say anything but the old parrot-cry, " Go back to Yatung.'* 
As Colonel Younghusband himself reminded them, this obsti- 
nacy had served the Tibetans in good stead for fifteen years. 
Hitherto it had always succeeded; how then were they to realize 
that at last the British Government was in earnest? After 
twenty minutes of excited but fruitless discussion, carried on 
through the interpretation of Captain O'Connor— at such times 
the most immovably patient of men— the small durbar was 
broken up and the more important of the Tibetans cantered back 
to their defenses in a cloud of dust. One or two only endeavored, 
by violent gesticulation and shouting all together, to secure the re- 
treat of the English commissioner. O'Connor, though he was be- 


ing jostled and ridden off ten times a minute, retained his compo- 
sure, explaining again and again that the advance must now 
continue, and that Colonel Younghusband could listen to no- 
thing before Gyantse was reached. At last they were made to 
understand, and shouting excitedly to each other they, too, 
scampered away on their stout little ponies. It was a curious 
incident — the impassive non possumus which Younghusband re- 
turned to the heated declamations of the two senior delegates; 
•the gay yellow and green coats of the generals from Lhasa and 
Shigatse; the various head-dresses; the purple and blue of the 
robes; the strange forked guns embossed with turquoise and 
coral; the richly worked sword hilts; the little gray and bay 
ponies, saddle-clothed with swastika-patterned stuffs and gay 
with filigree brass headbands and wide molded iron stirrups 
— all these things straight from the sacred and forbidden city 
possessed a new and intense interest for all of us. 

There was no doubt about it ; the Tibetans intended to defend 

' their walls, and this created a most unpleasant predicament. 

- Acting upon Colonel Younghusband's instructions, the General 
ordered that not a shot was to be fired until the enemy had be- 
gun. This, in other words, meant that our men were to forego 
■every advantage which discipline and modern weapons conferred 
upon them. At the worst, it meant that they were obliged to 
march straight up to sangars, held by men equipped with firearms 
of unknown strength, and that, not only were they to suffer a 
.possibly destructive volley before opening fire, but that they 
might even be compelled to carry on the combat at a range so 
short and from ground so coverless that the Tibetans would en- 
joy other advantages besides that of sheer numbers, which they 
already possessed. Still, the thing was done. It was such a pol- 
icy as has probably had no parallel since the days of the Old 
Guard at Fontenoy, and it is more to the credit of Indian disci- 
•plme than English readers may realize that not a man, Gurkha 
^r Sikh, disobeyed the order all the day. 









The scene was a strange one. Out toward the lake a thin ex- 
tended line was pushed forward, far outflanking the wall and 
entirely commanding the line of the Tibetans' retreat. Mean- 
while, the 23d Pioneers and the 8th Gurkhas were slowly clearing 
the hills on the left, making each sangar disgorge its holders one 
after the other. It was done in silence, and almost with good- 
humor; but there was a hush of suspense among the two staffs 
out in the plain who were watching with straining eyes the slow 
progress of the khaki dots on the hillsides two miles away. At 
any moment a shot might fire the powder magazine, and it was 
not till the last of the hundreds of gray-coated figures had slowly 
come down to the wall that the officers shut up their field-glasses 
and moved on to where the work of disarmament was just begin- 
ning. The sense of an insecurely leashed anger which might 
break out at any moment was suddenly replaced by an exag- 
gerated sense of security and congratulation. The incident 
was regarded as practically over. The Commissioner and the 
General rode in together to the wall to watch the huddled 
group of Tibetans massed behind it, covering as much ground 
as a battalion in quarter column. On either side of them were 
our men. In front also the wall was lined with the 32d Pioneers ; 
the line of retreat alone lay open to them. Two hundred others 
had been taken prisoners up the hillside and disarmed there. 
These remained passive and thankful spectators of what was to 

The main body of the Tibetans were bewildered, but not sub- 
dued. The whole thing must have been incomprehensible to these 
poor men. No order had been given to them to retreat, and they 
seemed to have acquiesced in their friendly expulsion by the Gur- 
khas and Sikh Pioneers in a dazed way. Gathered together in a 
body, their enormous superiority in numbers must have struck 
them. They had no idea, of course, of the advantage which we 
possessed, and there was a growing murmur as they discussed the 
matter excitedly behind the wall. Some of them then and there 


concocted a scheme which might have had terrible results, and 
the unwitting action of the Mission leaders almost put it into 
their power to carry it out. As we afterward found from the 
prisoners, they on the spot determined upon nothing less than 
to permit the advance guard of the expedition to go through, and 
then fall suddenly upon the members of the Mission themselves. 
The disarmament upon which the General insisted of course de- 
feated their plans, and it was in the attempt to carry out this op- 
eration that the storm broke. When the Sikhs advanced toward 
the wall and began the work there was difficulty from the outset. 
In some cases the Tibetans actually struck the Pioneers ; in others, 
there ensued a struggle for a weapon ; but this was not immedi- 
ately noticeable from where Younghusband and the General were 
standing, ten yards away from the house at the far end of the 
wall. Homer has given the explanation of what then took place. 
Steel of itself, says he, draws a man, and this handling of weapons 
was a terrible risk. It was almost exactly noonday. 

The Depen of Lhasa himself was the man who set the slum- 
bering mine ablaze. He was seated on his horse just outside the 
wall, and, exempt himself from the confiscation of his arms, he 
shouted hysterically to his men to resist. They replied by stoning 
the Sikhs. Even then, though the whole affair hung in a slippery 
balance indeed, the latter held themselves in check. One of them 
advanced to the head of the Depen's pony as the Lhasan General 
tried to move up toward the wall. In an evil moment for himself 
and his countrymen, the head of the great house of Lheding drew 
his pistol and fired, smashing the Sikh's jaw. There was an 
awful pause, that lasted for perhaps three seconds; and then an- 
other report broke the stillness. A jezail, for which a Sikh and 
a Tibetan were struggling, discharged itself into the air. But it 
was almost unnoticed in the sudden yell with which the Tibetans 
hurled themselves with drawn swords against the thin line of Pio- 
neers leaning up against the wall. Such of them as had their 





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03 la 

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pieces ready fired point-blank at the Indian guard, and then drop- 
ping them, flung themselves with their long, straight, heavy- 
swords into the melee. Two Europeans were caught inside the 
wall, and both were wounded. One, Mr. Candler, the correspon- 
dent of the Daily Mail, was severely cut about before his assail- 
ants could be shot down. The other, Major Dunlop, found him- 
self confronted by a furious Tibetan who cut his hand upon his 
rifle stock with a fearful thrust before Dunlop was able to kill 

By this time the storm had broken in full intensity, and from 
three sides at once a withering volley of magazine fire crashed 
into the crowded mass of Tibetans. It was like a man fighting 
with a child. The issue was not in doubt, even from the first mo- 
ment; and under the appalling punishment of lead, they stag- 
gered, failed, and ran. Straight down the line of fire lay their 
only path of escape. Moved by a common impulse, the whole 
mass of them jostling one against another with a curious slow 
thrust, they set out with strange deliberation to get away from 
this awful plot of death. Two hundred yards away stood a 
sharply squared rock behind which they thought to find refuge. 
But the Gurkhas from above enfiladed this position and the only 
hope they had lay in reaching the next spur half a mile away. 
Had we been armed with their weapons, another hundred yards 
would have brought them into safety, even in the open. It was 
an awful sight. One watched it with the curious sense of fasci- 
nation which the display of unchecked power over life and death 
always exerts when exercised. Men dropped at every yard. 
Here and there an ugly heap of dead and wounded was concen- 
trated, but not a space of twenty yards was without its stricken 
and shapeless burden. At last, the slowly moving wretches— and 
the slowness of their escape was horrible and loathsome to us— 
reached the corner, where at any rate we knew them safe from the 
horrible lightning storm which they had themselves challenged. 


All this was necessary, but none the less it sickened those who 
took part in it, however well they realized the fact. This was no 
fighting in the usual sense of the word. As soon as their first 
assault had failed there was nothing for the Mission escort to 
fear, except, perhaps, the bullets of their own companions. This 
was so real a danger that the company of the 32d, which had 
been sent round on the right, as has been described, was obliged 
to retreat so as to leave a clear field for the fire of the 
Gurkhas on the slope of the spur. The guns had come into 
action on the right as soon as possible, but the extraordinary 
difference which these high altitudes make in the burning of a 
fuse * nullified their work to a very great extent. I do not 
suppose that any white man in the force was anything but sin- 
cerely glad when one more dark-coated little figure disappeared 
in safety behind the distant corner. But the behavior of the native 
troops was beyond all praise. They had kept their temper and 
their discipline till it was almost beyond human endurance. And 
when the word was given they naturally had no mercy upon an 
enemy whose attempt to equalize matters by the hand-to-hand 
use of vastly superior numbers had been tried and failed. It was 
a short but a terrible lesson. 

An attempt was made to defend Guru itself, two miles on, but 
this was easily defeated ; and after leaving a small garrison in the 
place, the column returned to Tuna against a bitter wind and a 
darkening sky. 

The lesson which Guru should have taught was hardly learned 
by the Tibetans. It should have been patent to them from that 
moment, that until they had adopted modern weapons and, per- 
haps, also had adopted some of the methods of the tribes on the 
northwest frontier, it would be vain for them to attempt to resist 
by force the progress of our troops. But every one of the men 

* At the Kara la a distance requiring a 19 half-second fuse was only properly- 
shelled by reducing the fuse to 9. 

The British force still firing at the retreating Tibetans 


whose report might have carried weight in Lhasa was dead, and 
all we could ever afterward learn suggested rather that this com- 
plete and utter rout of the pick of the Tibetan army was looked 
upon in Lhasa rather as a disgrace to the officers concerned than 
as a final proof of the foolishness of opposing us in the open field. 
We afterward found that about fifteen hundred men in all had 
been detailed for the defense of the Tibetan position on this side. 
Another force of about one thousand men was ready to defend the 
road to Lhasa across the lake, where twenty-four well-made san- 
gars had been built across the road. Another body of men, esti- 
mated variously at from two hundred to one thousand, remained 
in Guru when their companions advanced to their position.^ The 
troops returned to Tuna for the night, and before we advanced 
again, it had been found necessary to amputate Mr. Candler's left 
hand. He stayed at Tuna some time, and when he was well 
enough to be moved, returned to Darjeeling till the final advance 

This incident made it imperative that the advance to Gyantse 
should be carried out as quickly as possible. The road was re- 
ported clear to the Kala tso. Beyond that, vague rumors reached 
us of a concentration of Tibetans, generally embroidered with 
accounts of mailed horsemen and other picturesque details, which 
unfortunately were never justified by the fact. 

^ Here, as elsewhere, it seems to me that the numbers of the enemy 
have been overrated in the official estimates. 



AFTER the fight at the Hot Springs the force remained at 
JTx. Tuna for three days. On the morning of the 4th of April 
the Mission and its escort moved on to Guru, passing over the 
scene of the sudden disaster of the previous Thursday. Every- 
where, indeed, ugly traces of the tragedy were still only too visi- 
ble. Everything that could possibly be done had been carried 
out by the medical officers, and it is only fair to record the quiet 
work among the Tibetan wounded which was done on their own 
initiative by the surgeons connected with the force. Captains 
Walton, Baird, and Kelly, and Dr. Franklin had worked unceas- 
ingly all day on the ist among the wounded Tibetans, and it would 
be difficult to describe adequately the blank amazement with which 
our prisoners regarded this treatment. Mercy to prisoners is not 
a characteristic of the Oriental, and not one of the wretched men 
whose wounds had rendered it impossible for them to escape or to 
be carried away had the least idea that any mercy except a coup 
de grace would be extended to them. They were tenderly treated 
and the resources of the expedition were lavishly used. In the 
end the inevitable occurred, and it was with the utmost difficulty 
that we could shake off from us the Tibetans whom we had re- 
stored to health and strength. 

The information that was received from these men was simple 
and always to the same effect. They had no quarrel with us; 
they had been driven to the front unwillingly, partly by the super- 
stitious hold which the Lamas had over them, partly by the threat 



of physical punishment which the hierarchy did not fail. to wield; 
and they realized soon enough that any attempt to stop us was 
not only unnecessary but impossible. At any rate they would pre- 
fer to take up any service, however menial, with us rather than go 
back to the tyranny of their priests. Many wounded men came 
in from a distance of their own accord. Morning after morning 
one or two dead figures would be found a few hundred yards 
away from our outposts — men who had been painfully trying 
. to drag their broken bodies in to this miraculous healing of which 
the fame had spread far and wide. It has often been said, and 
no doubt said with some truth, that the work that we then did to 
heal our wounded enemies, besides sorely depleting our stock of 
bandages and other surgical necessities, was a source of weakness 
rather than strength to the subsequent negotiations. The methods 
of a Genghiz Khan would no doubt have brought our Mission to 
a speedier end. But knowledge is not to be confounded with 
wisdom, and many of our Oriental experts have forgotten in their 
experience of detail that, after all, the Oriental is a man. What- 
ever may be the ultimate success or permanence of our diplomatic 
relations with the present priestly government of Tibet, the repu- 
tation for magnanimity which we have secured among the poor 
unlettered peoples of these uplands will as a tradition long out- 
live the remembrance of political success, however great. Besides, 
the thing had to be done. 

The column halted at Guru. This is an unattractive spot, bare 
and wind-swept, and marked only by a few disreputable houses 
in two clumps, gathered in each case round a house of more re- 
spectable appearance. Here the Chinese " General " Ma appeared. 
But Captain Parr, of the Chinese Maritime Customs, declined to 
recognize his representative character. On the morning of the 
5th, the Mission moved on past Dochen toward Chalu by the 
northern shore of the lake. It was a long march, and the narrow- 
ness of the shore made it impossible to advance in more than one 


column. Here we struck into the heart of the land of Bogle and 
Turner. What they wrote 130 years ago is true to the letter to- 
day. The high, naked spurs which inclose the plain upon which 
the Bam tso is now but a dwindling stretch, frowned upon us as 
we moved past the successive openings. Some grazing might 
perhaps be found here in the height of the summer, but in April 
there is no blade of vegetation except the usual wormwood. Di- 
vided from the road by a wide swamp, the waters of the lake, then 
partly frozen, were dotted with the innumerable wild-fowl which 
the previous explorers had reported. Ruddy sheldrake, pintails, 
bar-headed geese, pochards, terns, teal, and wild-duck were all to 
be seen and it was easy to approach within twenty yards of them. 
A curious thing was here to be seen. These birds undoubtedly 
migrate annually across the Himalayas from the plains of India. 
Lower down, they had had experience enough of the meaning and 
danger of a man's figure. Here in Tibet, where no bird had been 
shot since Bogle offended the susceptibilities of his companions, 
they did not show the slightest fear when the long dusty column 
bore down upon them. But after the evening of the 5th, when ' 
shooting was for the first time permitted after our arrival in camp^ 
the change that came over the fowl was strange indeed. In a mo- 
ment they became, and remained, as shy as ever they had been 
in India. 

Under foot, on the cinderous slopes, the only vegetation was 
the hard circular sponges of saxifrage or the tiny plants of edel- 
weiss, no larger than a florin, hiding away between the boulders 
and the stones. Here and there a hare scurried away before the 
feet of the column, but it was a rare break in the monotony. 
Across the lake to the east, the road to Lhasa ran visibly, and 
away to the south-east could be seen the deserted walls and san- 
gars of Hram, which the enemy had deserted during the fight at 
Guru. Chalu was reached about three o'clock. 

The village itself lies half-way between the two lakes on the 


borders of the stream which flows from the Bam tso into the 
Kala tso, a distance of about three miles. A halt was made 
just where this stream leaves the former lake. It was a cold, 
pitiless afternoon, with a horizontal sleet blowing and the prom- 
ise of heavy snow that night. A few duck were shot and a wel- 
come store of bhusa was obtained from Chalu. Lu-chea mon- 
astery was visible half-way up the hills to the east, but it was 
not visited, except by a foraging party. The stream joining the 
two lakes is traversed by a long stone causeway, about a quarter 
of a mile from the upper lake, and on the following morning 
it was crossed by the column, who were to make only a short 
march that day. The road between the two lakes runs at a little 
height above the stream in the defile. On either side there are 
steep hills, and Chalu occupies the only level place beside the 
road. It is only a short distance before the gorge ends and the 
waters of the Kala tso are seen. Even the most recent map 
makers, I notice, have insisted that this gorge is ten miles long. 
It is curious that they should have persisted in this mistake in 
spite of the far more accurate map which Turner drew in 1784. 
As one goes on an extraordinary optical delusion is seen. 
The Kala tso stretches out, a great shield of silver gray on the 
left front, and the river, some thirty feet below us on the same 
side, appears to run up hill into it. This delusion, which is very 
striking, can only be accounted for by assuming that the eye is 
mistaken in the apparent height of the Kala tso. This lake cer- 
tainly seemed to be on a level with the path along which we were 
marching, and the river is perhaps only seen as an accidental item 
in the picture. When, however, it is perceived running close un- 
der our feet, the inference that it has to make its way up hill to 
fall into the lake is, I suppose, irresistible. In any case, it is a cu- 
rious spectacle, and one to which Manning evidently referred in 
his journal, though he must have misread his notes. He records 
this optical delusion as visible in Red Idol Gorge. The Kala 


tso, on the banks of which the column halted for the night of the 
6th, after a short march, is the remains of a very much larger 
lake, which in earlier days covered the whole plain that now lies 
east of its shore. The scenery was the same as before, though 
the scanty grass bents now became a little more frequent, and 
thick wormwood appeared here and there in patches on the 

The most remarkable thing here is the evidence of a very 
large population in earlier days which the continuous string of 
ruined walls and houses supplies. For a space of nearly two 
miles the hill-side road — which clings still to the mountains in 
avoidance of the now vanished lake — is marked by a wilderness 
of great pebbles which have dropped from the walls and houses 
of a lost civilization. The ground is still marked by lines of 
crumbling structures held together in the ground plan of their 
first shape by dry layers of mud-mortar. Thousands must have 
lived here once. As with most other things in Tibet, there are 
many different reasons suggested for this wholesale desertion — 
a small-pox, the subsidence of the lake, the Mongol invasion, 
the utter inability of the inhabitants to adjust themselves to 
so wretched and inhospitable an environment. Perhaps, also, 
the closing of the trade routes over the Sikkim passes may have 
had its effect. It is only clear to-day that the scanty duffle- 
clad figures who bow with protruded tongues at the entering in 
of their hamlets and the black-aureoled women whose heads 
appear inquisitively over the sordid sod-parapets of the roofs 
above are but the hundredth part of the population of a scattered 
but important trade center in the past. 

The question that now exercised the General was whether the 
jong would be defended or not. It was apparent, even at this 
distance, that it would be no light matter to drive an enemy, how- 
ever weakly armed, from so strong a position, and we were, as 










a matter of fact, confronted by the easier slopes of the rock upon 
which it is built. There is no approach on the western side. 
Standing out as it does in the plain, joined only by a narrow sad- 
dle to the hills beside and above it, the jong is a formidable fort 
indeed. There was some delay about crossing the river, and then 
the column encamped above the river flats on the edge of the wide, 
fertile plain. 

Emissaries came out from Gyantse— the Jong-pen and the 
Chinese General Ma who had first accosted us at Guru. The 
Jong-pen put the whole situation clearly enough. On the one 
hand, he said, if he were to surrender the jong to us, his throat 
would be cut by the Dalai Lama ; on the other hand, he said, with 
naive simplicity, that as all his soldiers had run away, he was not 
able to offer any effective opposition to our occupation of it. This 
was indeed true. Hundreds of Tibetan soldiers during the last 
halt made by us on the plain took advantage of our inaction to 
escape, carrying with them, it was reported, most of the available 
weapons from the jong and town. The Jong-pen of Gyantse is a 
kindly heavy old man like a saddened Falstaff ; and it was with 
considerable regret that we were obliged to disregard his peti- 
tions. As events proved, however, it would have been a wiser 
thing if, instead of a temporary occupation of the fort, followed 
by inadequate demolitions near the two main gateways, we had 
boldly undertaken to occupy the place. Meanwhile it was clear 
that the Tibetans could not be allowed to remain undisturbed in 
the fort which commanded the country round. They were indeed 
promised that no harm should be done to any one in the place, and 
that the temples of the jong and of the town should remain un- 
touched if, on their side, the Tibetans behaved with straightfor- 
wardness to us. We camped for the night beside a new and well- 
built house, and on the following morning moved in, prepared both 
for treachery and for the task, if need be, of taking the fort by 
storm. There was, however, no necessity for apprehension. The 


Jong-pen and the Chinese General came out to meet us and surren- 
dered the entire place. Still, precautions were not relaxed until the 
small party of pioneers, which we sent forward to investigate the 
ruined walls and towers that crowned the great rock, had climbed 
to the topmost pinnacle, and the Union Jack run up beside the gilt 
copper finial which marked the highest point. The utmost cour- 
tesy was shown to the Jong-pen, and he in his turn, though it 
must be feared with a heavy heart, undertook to help in the col- 
lection of necessary foodstuffs from the town and from the sur- 
rounding villages. Already a cursory examination, of the store- 
houses and cellars of the jong had shown that the whole place was 
one gigantic granary. All was not, of course, discovered at first, 
but nearly eight thousand maunds * of grain and tsamba were 
found inside the storerooms of this fort alone. Two positions were 
selected by the military authorities as suitable for the residence of 
the Mission. One of them, Chang-lo, lay at the head of the ap- 
proach across the Nyang chu, 1,350 yards from the large modern 
barrack round which the defenses on the jong were centered. 
The other lay within 500 yards of the rock, and (as the jong was 
not occupied by our troops) would have proved utterly untenable 
in the circumstances which afterward resulted in the practical in- 
vestment of the Mission post. As it was, Chang-lo, the place oc- 
cupied by Colonel Younghusband, was unpleasantly near and a 
thousand yards within the range of a Tibetan jingal. The follow- 
ing day the work of collecting the foodstuffs of the jong began 
under the able generalship of Major Bretherton, and the long 
convoys of mules began to go backward and forward between 
Chang-lo and the jong. Small bodies of mounted men went out 
to report upon the stores that could be supplied by the surround- 
ing villages, and the amount far exceeded that reported as likely 

* The maund used in the north-east of India weighs 80 pounds. This was, 
during the expedition, the accepted unit of measurement, and was also the 
normal weight carried by a single cooHe. 

" Who looks like a saddened Falstaff " 



by the Mission. On the fourth day, Colonel Younghusband and 
the men moved into the smaller of the two compounds which com- 
prise Chang-lo. It was a pretty place. A beautifully painted and 
columned open room opened upon a small courtyard, in the south 
wall of which was a gateway leading straight out on to a grav- 
eled court in which the finest poplar trees we ever saw in Tibet 
rose bare and branching over our heads. The other part of 
Chang-lo consisted of a very irregularly shaped building which 
probably represented the actual daily living-house of the ducal 
family of Chang-lo. It was very thickly built, and presented its 
most impregnable side toward the jong. This peculiarity, which 
was common enough in the houses of the plain to suggest that it 
was not wholly unintentional, proved afterward the salvation of 
the situation. The place was capable of defense, and to the south, 
away from the jong, a thick plantation of leafless willow-thorns 
was carpeted from end to end with iris. The river ran beside us 
sixty yards away, turning in its course toward the far distant spur 
upon which the scattered houses and temples of Tse-chen were 
built. Other white houses dotted the plain on all sides within a 
mile, and twelve hundred yards away to the north-east the little 
village of Pala, then deserted, guarded the road to Lhasa. 

It is worth while to review the political situation at the time 
of our arrival at Gyantse. Colonel Younghusband had sent a 
letter to the Amban announcing to him the impending arrival of 
the British Mission, and requesting him to come to Gyantse to 
discuss the terms of the agreement, bringing with him properly 
qualified Tibetan representatives of sufficiently high rank. This 
letter was sent off during the march up, but I do not suppose 
that any one in the force really believed that the Tibetans were 
willing to treat with us. The news of their loss at Tuna was 
brought to the Lhasan authorities in a wholly mendacious form. 
It is easy to see how the incidents of that unfortunate day lent 
themselves to misconstruction. It was reported, and believed, in 


Lhasa that the English had decoyed the Tibetan soldiers away 
from their defenses and had then wantonly shot them down. The 
truth was indeed known to the friendly States of Bhutan and 
Nepal, but these carry little weight in Tibetan councils. The 
only man in Lhasa who seems to have understood the gravity of 
the situation was Dorjieff himself. His action was immediate 
and characteristic. As soon as the news arrived of our occupation 
of Gyantse he suggested to the Tibetans the advisability of over- 
whelming the Mission by a night attack. This had been proposed 
by him already, while the Mission were still encamped at Kamba- 
jong, and it is likely that the retirement of the Mission from that 
place was rendered doubly ignominious in the eyes of the Tibetans 
because they believed our evacuation to be directly due to the 
attack for which they were preparing. Dorjieff was, however, far 
from confident as to the upshot of this Experiment. He realized, 
better perhaps than any one else in Lhasa, that if the small force 
accompanying Colonel Younghusband were able to force their way 
on to the capital they would unhesitatingly do so. The name of 
Younghusband is unpleasantly well known in the chancelleries of 
St. Petersburg. He has never been associated with want of enter- 
prise or of readiness to seize the least opportunity afforded by his 
opponent, but his far-sighted prudence was perhaps better recog- 
nized still. That the Colonel should have decided to remain in 
Gyantse with a small escort while Macdonald returned to the 
Chumbi Valley to organize arrangements for a further advance 
to Lhasa cannot, therefore, have seemed to Dorjieff to be the rash- 
ness of an over-confident man. So far Dorjieff's influence with 
the Dalai Lama was unimpaired ; his position in the country was 
however weakened, not only because in spite of his assurances the 
English had actually been able to penetrate into the country, but 
also because it was now becoming known that Japan was actually 
at war with Russia, a disquieting suggestion of the latter's real 
strength. News of the Russian defeats did not reach Lhasa until 


Captured after a long and bitter fight 


the middle of May, if information received there is to be trusted. 
Dorjieff, therefore, determined, after setting the fuse alight, to 
make the best of his way to a place of safety. If the British Mis- 
sion were annihilated he could always return and claim the credit 
of the suggestion. If, on the other hand, the English were able 
to beat off the attack, Dorjieff foresaw only too clearly that his 
influence in Lhasa was doomed, and that even the Dalai Lama 
himself could not protect him. 

While the Tibetans were preparing to send a fresh force for 
this hostile purpose they naturally refused to allow the Amban to 
negotiate with the Mission. The Viceroy himself repeatedly saw 
the Dalai Lama in person, but could get nothing from him ; to his 
demands for transport and for responsible and accredited repre- 
sentatives of Tibet in the forthcoming negotiations no answer 
was returned. At one time he thought that when it came to the 
point the Tibetan government would hesitate to repudiate in any 
direct manner the suzerainty which he represented. He there- 
fore bluntly reminded them that he was acting under the orders 
of the Chinese Emperor in demanding that they should negotiate ; 
he added that the responsibility of acquiescing in the refusal of 
the Tibetans was so serious that he declined to be any party to 
their action. The orders had been given and signed with the ver- 
milion pencil — those orders he intended to carry out. The im- 
mediate answer of the Dalai Lama was an assumption of all re- 
sponsibility for the action of the Tibetan government. He said 
that he was willing to accept the onus of acting in contravention 
of his suzerain's commands. 

Meanwhile, Colonel Younghusband found himself in a difficult 
position. The advance to Gyantse had been accepted as inevitable 
by the home government. But they did not believe that it would 
be necessary to make any further advance, and their policy at this 
time assumed the ultimate submission of the Tibetan government 
during this phase of our relations with the country, and Young- 


husband, in some way which is neither entirely clear nor entirely 
fair, was regarded as unduly anxious to press on to the capital. 
This was true in so far as that he recognized the importance, in 
dealing with Oriental nations, of concluding the treaty in no 
place short of the capital. Sound as this theory is in all cases, it is 
especially so in the case of Tibet. Gyantse is a place the political 
importance of which has been greatly over-rated; the truth is, 
that no city or district, except Lhasa, is of any political impor- 
tance whatever. A treaty signed at Gyantse might have achieved 
one object. It might have given us a satisfactory basis for insist- 
ing, when we thought fit, upon the observation of its terms. But as 
binding the hierarchy of Lhasa it was of no more real importance 
than the treaty of 1890-3, which they Jiad repudiated. Colonel 
Younghusband appreciated the difficulty of securing any finality 
in our relations with the Dalai Lama by negotiations at Gyantse, 
but he was throughout perfectly willing to accept the opinion of 
the Government and negotiate at this place. He may have re- 
garded it as a half measure, but he recognized the necessity of 
carrying out his orders to the letter, if it were possible for him 
to do so. At the same time he also recognized the improbability 
of getting the Tibetans to co-operate. 

Tradition and experience alike had combined to persuade the 
Tibetans of the truth of Disraeli's statement that delay is the se- 
cret of success. They had always succeeded in the past by a pol- 
icy of abstention ; why, then, even if we were able to reach a town 
of the political insignificance of Gyantse, should they be induced 
to abandon the policy which had served them in good stead for so 
many centuries? The Dalai Lama had perhaps good reason for 
his confidence. He remembered that assurances had been received 
long ago from a trustworthy source that the British Government 
were opposed to the risks involved by sending troops further 
into Tibet. It is true that he cannot be supposed to have under- 
stood the enormous advantage which the Parliamentary system 


of England put into his hands : he cannot have known that there 
was any serious criticism of Lord Curzon's policy in England : of 
the chance — which seemed to us in Tibet to be a considerable one 
— of a change of policy as the result of a General Election he can 
have known nothing. But there were many other things which 
may have influenced him in risking our unwillingness to proceed 
further into the country. In the first place, first by a long interval, 
Lhasa had never before been reached, and he may well have 
trusted to the experience of history. In the second place, he prob- 
ably imagined that the advance to Lhasa would necessitate the 
employment of a very much larger force than that with which 
we had reached Gyantse, and no one knows so well as a Tibetan 
the impracticability of taking large bodies of men over these high 
uplands without long and careful preparation. Then, again, he 
looked forward to the evacuation of southern Tibet by the Eng- 
lish as a matter of necessity, not so much because they were un- 
able to withstand the climate there as because it was impossible 
to maintain communications during the winter over the terrible 
passes of the Chumbi Valley, Delay, therefore, was his obvious 
policy. It is an odd thought that if he had limited himself to this, 
his opposition might perhaps have been successfuK 

Of all these considerations. Colonel Younghusband was fully 
aware. He did not for a moment believe that negotiation at Gy- 
antse could be carried through. His knowledge of Oriental habits 
and thought told him unerringly that in the capital only was there 
a chance of making such an impression as might secure the due 
observation of the treaty. But, on the other hand, his instruc- 
tions from home were clear enough, and for some time, while the 
matter hung in the balance, it must have been difficult for him to 
see how any middle course was possible which would enable Lord 
Curzon to achieve even the most moderate triumph in the face of 
misconceptions in Whitehall, As we now know, the Tibetans all 
along were on the point of settling the matter by their own foolish 


action, but until the early days of May the outlook was blank 

In the light of after events it was lucky that during those first 
three weeks after our arrival at Gyantse we did not let the grass 
grow under our feet. Much had to be done by the military au- 
thorities in putting Chang-lo into a proper state of defense, but 
for the members of the Mission, excepting Captain Ryder, R.E., 
and Captain Walton, I.M.S., there was little to do. Negotiation 
of any kind was obviously not intended by the Tibetans, and some 
of us spent our time in making expeditions to eyery point of in- 
terest in Gyantse and in the plain around. 



THE first view of Gyantse is imposing. Across the wide, 
level plain, cultivated in little irregular patches as closely 
as an English county, the high-walled peak from which the town 
gets its name^ rises 500 feet into the air. From the first the 
jong fills the eye, and it is not until one is close that the low, 
white two-storied houses of the town are seen at its foot, nestling 
under the protection of the battlements and bastions of the great 

So huge is the mass of masonry and sun-dried brick with 
which the steep and isolated hill is crowned, that it is a matter 
of some surprise that it has received scanty or no attention from 
the few travelers who have passed beneath it. Manning, indeed, 
in 181 1, refers to it as "a sort of castle on the top of a hill," 
a somewhat inadequate description of a pile of buildings hardly 
less in size than those of Mont St. Michel. Ruinous it was 
even in April, but that was hardly perceptible at a distance, 
and the apparent strength of the huge towers and curtains which 
overhang the almost precipitous rock would, one thinks, have 
impressed the most incurious of observers, among whom Man- 
ning, the only Englishman who has ever reached Lhasa, is 
unfortunately to be placed. Even in its existing condition, a 
week's siege and a couple of hundred casualties would have 

* The name is written rgyal-rtse and means " Royal Peak." The " n " is 
merely an example of a common tendency to nasalize the close of a first sylla- 
ble. " Palden Lhamo " is almost invariably pronounced " Panden Lhamo." 
The great monastery at Gyantse is often called the " Pan-khor Choide." 



been the price of any attempt on our part to take the successive 
defenses by storm in the face of the slightest really well-handled 

Leaving the level of the town at the south-eastern corner of 
the rock— which is 400 or 500 yards in length— one makes one's 
way up the zigzag approach hewn out of the side of the ocher- 
ous quartz-seamed sand-stone. The roadway, after running the 
gauntlet of a large detached bastion built against the flank of the 
almost perpendicular stone, leads up to the great gateway, in the 
deep recess of which — then partly supported by two stout 
wooden pillars and of no great strength— there hung from the 
ceiling four huge stuffed carcasses of dongs or wild yaks, with ar- 
tificial eyes and tongues protruding in a fearsome way. But the 
beasts were falling to pieces from age, and rather resembled badly 
stitched leather bags than anything else. Everything that could 
fall from them — hair, horns, hoofs — had already fallen, and 
handfuls of the straw stuffing bulged out from every seam. 
After passing the gateway the road zigzags upward again, pro- 
tected by a rough breast-work in which recent repairs and new 
loopholes were obvious every few yards. The latter were 
" splayed " on the inside, contrasting strongly with the older 
useless little slits which only allow a defender to fire straight 
in front of him. Higher up, beside some houses which are fall- 
ing rapidly to pieces, was a new and well-built barrack store- 
room, in which thousands of pounds of powder, tons and tons 
of supplies, and tens of miles of matchlock fuse were found. 
Another hundred paces to the left brought one to the door of the 
most interesting series of rooms remaining in the jong. Dark- 
ened by the blocking up of their windows, one cellar-like low 
room leads into another — some little chapels, some living rooms, 
some storerooms. Out of these one came into a little court 
with a rotten wooden ladder and a loyal dirty gray watch-dog 
who exhibited more pluck than his flying masters had. At the 

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» > » » » » 


Here the Mission made a long lialt. 1 1 did not advance until the military escort, after a fierce battle with the Tibetans, 
captured the stronghold. The Palkhor Choide. inclosed in walls, fills the upper end of the picture. 


top of the ladder a step to the left takes one into a small yard, 
one end of which is occupied by a little gompa or temple. Look- 
ing in from the sunlight one could just distinguish the great 
dull gold figure and smiling, placid countenance of the Master 
whose presentment no superstition or latitude can either deface 
or materially change. Whatever stage in art his devotees may 
have reached, the great teacher's own image remains the same 
from Japan to Java, and the gaudy " katags " or ceremonial 
scarfs hide in Gyantse as severely simple a design as you may 
find at Kamakura or Mandalay. One large turquoise supplied 
the ever-present bump of wisdom on Gautama's forehead, but 
otherwise there was no decoration. But when one entered the 
luxury that had been denied to the central figure was seen to be 
lavished on the ornaments that strew the kyil-kor or altar shelves 
beneath the Buddha. One great wrought-steel chorten with 
chased courses and turquoise and gold ornamentation stood out 
among a crowd of lesser ones of brass or silver, antique ivories 
from India, vases with peacock feathers, and great brass and 
copper lamps. These lamps are perhaps the most striking orna- 
ment of a Buddhist shrine. Sometimes single, there may be 
dozens and even hundreds, each composed of a wide and deep 
bowl of heaped-up butter, in which, floating in a little pool which 
its own warmth has made, burns a single wick with a small 
yellow flame. These are the last things that the priests will 
take away. If they fear looting, they will hide every other 
ornament, replacing them by strange, many-colored erections of 
butter (torma), which they mold with extraordinary dexterity 
into conventional structures, sometimes five or six feet high. 
But the altar lamps must, and do, remain, whatever the risk, 
and one of the pleas subsequently brought forward by the Abbot 
of Gyantse was that a fine to be paid in butter might be com- 
muted, as they needed all the butter they could get for cere- 
monial use on their hundred altars — and they urged, with shrewd 

r r c 

«■ r r r 


flattery, it was well known that the British never interfered with 
the religion of the countries into which they made their way. 

Outside this little orange-walled gompa were five pots in 
which bloomed courageously well-grown plants of simple Eng- 
lish stocks. It was a curious shock to see them. How they 
came there it would be useless to guess, but surely never before 
did stocks justify so well Maeterlinck's eulogy of those little 
flowers that " sing among ruined walls and cover with light the 
grieving stones." For up above the gompa rise the great towers 
and buildings which lead up to the topmost structure on the 
very edge of the precipice which confronts the Lamasery to 
the north-west ; and even then, before the bombardments and ex- 
plosions of later days, they were all roofless shells of stone which 
quivered in the light afternoon wind. 

From the castle a fine view is to be had of the town of 
Gyantse and the great Lamasery of Pal-khor Choide, which 
stretches on the slope of a southerly spur facing the jong three- 
quarters of a mile away, protected by a long crimson wall from 
the assaults of the prevailing north-west wind. There are two 
curious things about this monastery. First, although it is sub- 
ject to Lhasa, and therefore nominally a Gelukpa or Yellow 
Cap foundation, it contains representatives of nearly all the 
recognized sects in Lamaism, which are numerous and jealous, 
though not vitally opposed to each other in doctrine. A curious 
custom, however, is, that when the Nying-mas or Red Cap com- 
munities in Pal-khor Choide worship with the Gelukpas the 
former make the not inconsiderable concession of wearing the 
yellow cap instead of their own distinctive red one. 

The other point, which is perhaps of little interest, is the 
legend that the great chorten or caitya outside the central tem- 
ple was copied from the well-known temple of Buddh-Gaya 
long before the restorer's hand had obscured some of the char- 
acteristic features of the latter. This legend is, as a matter of 

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< I 1 1 < I 


fact, wholly untrue. There is hardly any similarity between the 
two buildings. Chandra Das calls the architecture of the Gy- 
antse building unique. In a way this is true, but the lower part 
represents fairly well on a minute scale — the whole base is only 
120 feet each way — the great vihara of Boro-Bodoer in the mid- 
dle of Java. There is the same number of balustraded terraces, 
and the sides of each contracting stage are broken by square 
projections in a similar way. Each projection or angle con- 
tains a small chapel. The upper part of the structure consists 
of a large white drum with four grotesquely ornamented door- 
ways of a Burmese type, and a thirteen-ringed cone surmounted 
by a " htee " and finial, decorated with leaf-clapper bells, is also 
suggestive of Burma. The upper part is thickly ornamented 
with gold leaf, and the gilt copper plates composing the rings 
are each decorated with two incised figures of Buddha. The 
lower part of this pagoda — which is generally white — is roughly 
decorated here and there with color in an effective way, and the 
interior walls and passages are painted with microscopic finish, 
in some medium that produces an enamel-like surface. 

As one leaves the chorten and enters the main temple, an 
exquisitely painted "Wheel of Life" (if we may accept the 
rough translation which Rudyard Kipling borrowed for " Kim " 
from Waddell) meets the eye to the left of the doorway leading 
from the vestibule to the central apartment. It is difficult to 
convey any idea of the minute finish of this piece of work. A 
few will realize it when I say that it is probably the only prod- 
uct of man's brush which rivals the " Book of Kells " or the 
" Lindisfarne Gospels." Up in the balcony above there is ex- 
quisite work, but upon this circle the artist has lavished an ob- 
vious affection and care which must be seen to be believed. In 
style it resembles thirteenth century illumination, but, for ex- 
ample, no Vision of Hell was ever drawn with such amazing 
delicacy and hideous ingenuity as are the quaint tortures of the 


damned in this representation of the Buddhist Sheol. Inside 
the central crimson-pillared hall the only conspicuous object is 
the great seated figure of Maitreya, the next Buddha to be re- 
incarnated. He is, as always, seated in European fashion, a 
tradition which is more suggestive than most modern Buddhist 
legends, and instinctively recalls the belief of Lamaism that the 
end of the present age will be marked by the surrender of 
Buddhism into the hands of the " Piling " or western foreigner. 
In a recess of each of three sides of the central hall are great 
seated images of the Buddha. Sakya-muni himself is sur- 
rounded in the dark northern chapel by half-seen gigantic stand- 
ing statues of Egyptian massiveness and simplicity, almost 
touching each other as they line the walls, and looming out of 
the obscurity with dignity and no small dramatic effect.* To 
the left of the vestibule is an odd chamber of horrors. It is 
reported to be sufficient to overawe the most insubordinate of 
lamas, but the decaying stuffed beasts that hung from the roof 
and the dingy demons painted on the walls were scarcely as hor- 
rible as the common blue and scarlet guardians of religion who 
protect the entrance to every gompa. A dragon's skin was 
pointed out to me. It was, perhaps, no bad imitation. Allowing 
for contraction, the python which once owned this covering 
must have been at least 25 feet long and 13 inches in diameter. 
Chain-armor, bows, quivers, flags, painted cloth, skins, a few old 
guns and spears, and a few little untidy altars, from which, as 
from every other shrine we visited in the Lamasery, every orna- 
ment, except the lamps, had been taken and hidden away in ter- 
ror, and, of course, dirt everywhere, completed the furniture of 
this dismal chamber. But there remained many more temples 
and apartments, from the inspection of few of which we were 
excused by the talkative and, apparently, perfectly friendly 

* A similar arrangement is to be seen in the sanctuary of the "Jo" in 

the cathedral of Lhasa. 









E =^ 

::j ^ 







lamas. After drinking tea with the Abbot under the somewhat 
oppressive chaperonage of four Sikhs armed to the teeth, we 
left the monastery with many expressions of good-will. 

This was the first of many excursions to places of interest 
in the neighborhood. The strangest visit we ever paid was that 
to the Buried Monks. One day O'Connor and I rode out down 
the valley about twelve miles to a small village in the cleft of the 
mountains almost opposite Dongtse; we took with us the Sheb- 
dung Lama. Nothing could have been more peaceful and rus- 
tic than the long stretches of the plain dotted here and there 
. with little figures engaged on their farm work. We stopped 
once to examine more closely the elaborate head-dress of a 
couple of plowing yaks, much to the pleasure and pride of the 
clear-eyed boy who was their driver. Everywhere the villagers 
were pleased enough to see us; the first prickle of green was 
rising from the brown squares of irrigated mud, and some of 
the trees were timidly putting out the purple that precedes the 
green of spring. The nights were still cold, though the heat 
in the middle of the day was excessive, and the hot dry wind that 
scoured the valley every afternoon still burned up the vegetation 
on the hill-sides and in other places where no artificial moisture 
could supply sap for the young foliage. We took the road on 
the right bank, not crossing over the bridge at Tse-chen; this 
road keeps a constant level following the curves of the mountain- 
sides ten feet above the valley flats. There was little enough 
to mark the journey down. Carelessly enough we ambled along 
with our two Mounted Infantry men, whom we had taken out 
of deference to Colonel Brander's wishes, rather than from any 
real belief that then or thenceforward we should be in actual 
need of them. Nothing could have been more peaceful and 
promising than the affairs of Gyantse at that moment; we had 
come through the town and — an unquestioned proof of our popu- 
larity — the beggars had become both familiar and insolent. It 


was a bright day and we had our luncheon with us. The good 
people of the valley were always willing enough to give us 
hospitality to the best of their ability, but after all it was as well 
to have a couple of sandwiches and a boiled egg. About twelve 
o'clock we paused opposite Dongtse, lying out sleepily in the sun 
with the great three-decker palace of the Pala family anchored 
in the trees below. Very soon after this we rode through a little 
hamlet with some name like Chi-lang. A sharp turn round a 
projecting spur brought us face to face with the little valley in 
which the monastery of Nyen-de-kyi-buk hides itself. The as- 
cent was easy between bushes of thorn and roses covered with a 
wealth of traveler's joy; we passed beside the usual chortens 
and through a gateway over which a peach-tree spangled the blue 
of the sky with pink and snow. There was another blossoming 
against the walls of the monastery half-way up the hill. A hun- 
dred yards further on we found the abbot and the " chanzi " of 
the community waiting to receive us. 

The Shebdung Lama had lived for many years across the 
valley and must have seen from his master's windows above 
the town and gompa the rock-clinging monastery to which we 
had come was really responsible for our visit. With the usual 
inability to recognize the things which really interest a traveler 
in a strange country he had, while insisting upon the interests 
and the beauty of the Sinchen Lama's home, only incidentally 
spoken of a small community across the valley where, he said, 
extreme self-mortification was practised by a small company of 
the Nying-ma sect. We left our ponies in the monk's care and 
went inside the temple. We were glad to escape the white 
and dazzling sunshine. There was instantly visible a curious 
distinction between the monks of Nyen-de-kyi-buk and those 
whom we had met elsewhere. With the exception of the officials 
of the monastery these recluses wear their hair long, not plaited 
into a pigtail, but allowed to fall almost loose over their shoul- 



ders in a matted and filthy tangle. But besides this, there was not 
very much to distinguish the lamasery from others in the valley. 
The abbot, a quiet, sad-eyed man of about forty, v^as shaven, 
as also were a dozen children playing about with wholesome 
bickerings in the dust of the courtyard opposite the great door- 
way of the temple. All were dressed in the usual sacred maroon, 
and they seemed cheerful and contented. Inside the chapel of 
the monastery, however, there was certainly an austerity which 
we had not seen elsewhere. This Du-kang had few of the usual 
silk banners and hangings which contribute so much both to the 
color and the darkness of an ordinary gompa. There were the 
usual cushions on the ground, but the rows of images and cere- 
monial ornaments which generally fill the sanctuary end of 
these chapels were replaced by precise rows of books, each lodged 
sedately in its own pigeon-hole. In the center, in place of the 
usual kyil-kor, with its multifarious confusion of cups and bowls 
and lamps, there was a narrow shelf in front of a glazed recess. 
I think that there were on this shelf ten or twelve little brass 
bowls full of water, but there were no butter lamps. The sight 
of glass in Tibet always attracted attention : it was rare enough 
to see a piece a foot square; this glass was five times as large, 
and one wondered how it had escaped safely across the passes 
to this sequestered spot. Behind it a hard-featured Buddha 
scowled, a very different representation of the Master from that 
placid and kindly countenance which sanctifies him still to many 
not of his own creed. Under the abbot's guidance we visited 
the rooms opening out from the temple. There was nothing of 
great interest, nothing to distinguish it from twenty other 
gompas. We then had tea with our host, and afterward we asked 
permission to see one of the immured monks. Without any 
hesitation the abbot led the way out into the sunshine, which lay 
sweltering over the spring-teeming spaces of the valley below, 
and venturesome little green plants were poking up under our 


feet between the crevices in the stone footway. We climbed 
about forty feet, and the abbot led us into a small courtyard 
which had blank walls all round it, over which a peach-tree 
reared its transparent pink and white against the sky. Almost 
on a level with the ground there was an opening closed with a 
flat stone from behind. In front of this window was a ledge 
eighteen inches in width, with two basins beside it, one at each 
end. The abbot was attended by an acolyte who, by his mas- 
ter's orders, tapped three times sharply on the stone slab; we 
stood in the little courtyard in the sun, and watched that wicket 
with cold apprehension. I think, on the whole, it was the most 
uncanny thing I saw in all Tibet. What on earth was going 
to appear when that stone slab, which even then was beginning 
weakly to quiver, was pushed aside, the wildest conjecture could 
not suggest. After half a minute's pause the stone moved, or 
tried to move, but it came to rest again. Then very slowly and 
uncertainly it was pushed back and a black chasm was revealed. 
There was again a pause of thirty seconds, during which im- 
agination ran riot, but I do not think that any other thing could 
have been as intensely pathetic as that which we actually saw. 
A hand, muffled in a tightly wound piece of dirty cloth, for all 
the world like the stump of an arm, was painfully thrust up, 
and very weakly it felt along the slab. After a fruitless fum- 
bling the hand slowly quivered back again into the darkness. 
A few moments later there was again one ineffectual effort, and 
then the stone slab moved noiselessly again across the opening. 
Once a day, water and an unleavened cake of flour is placed for 
the prisoner upon that slab, the signal is given, and he may take 
it in. His diversion is over for the day, and in the darkness 
of his cell, where night and day, moon, sunset, and the dawn, 
are all alike, he— poor soul!— had thought that another day of 
his long penance was over. 

I do not know what feelings were uppermost at that moment 




in the others, but I know that a physical chill struck through me 
to the marrow. The awful pathos of that painful movement 
struggled in me with an intense shame that we had intruded our- 
selves upon a private misery ; and that we should have added one 
straw to the burden borne in the darkness by that unseen and un- 
happy man was a curiously poignant regret. We came away, 
and the abbot told us the story of the sect. " These men," said 
the abbot, when we questioned him, " live here in this mountain 
of their own free will; a few of them are allowed a little light 
whereby reading is possible, but these are the weaker brethren; 
the others live in darkness in a square cell partly hewn out of the 
sharp slope of the rock, partly built up, with the window just 
within reach of their upraised hand. There are three periods of 
this immurement. The first is endured for six months; the sec- 
ond, upon which a monk may enter at any time he pleases or not 
at all, is for three years and ninety-three days ; the third and last 
period is for life. Only this morning," said the abbot, " a hermit 
died here after having lived in darkness for twenty-five years." 
The thing was almost more revolting because the men entered 
willingly upon it. " What happens when they are ill ? " O'Connor 
asked the abbot. The answer came concisely enough, " They 
never are." It is true that when pressed he qualified this state- 
ment a little, but it seemed still to have considerable truth. He 
himself was waiting for the moment, now not long to be delayed, 
when he should bid his final farewell to the world. 

Voluntary this self-immolation is said to be, and perhaps tech- 
nically speaking it is possible for the pluckier souls to refuse to 
go on with this hideous and useless form of self-sacrifice, but the 
grip of the lamas is omnipotent, and practically none refuse. 
These hermits store up such merit— for themselves— by these 
means as no other life insures. That may be some consolation for 
a Tibetan mind ; it would be little enough for any one else. On 
our return the children in the courtyard were invested with a ter- 


rible pathos. To this Hfe of painfully useless selfishness they are 
condemned, and the very difference in their coiffure is one more 
link which ties down their young lives. After their first immure- 
ment their hair is allowed to grow, and the sanctity which en- 
haloes a Nyen-de-kyi-buk hermit, whenever recognized by his 
tresses, effectually prevents his turning back. He is a marked 
man, and, as in so many other cases in this world, he ends by 
doing what he is expected to do. Our horses were made ready 
and we said farewell to our kindly host and rode away into the 
warmth and life of the valley in silence. 

This memory still makes a deeper impression than one thought 
possible even in the first shock of the moment. Even now the 
silver and the flowers and the white linen and the crimson-shaded 
lights of a dinner table are sometimes dimmed by a picture of the 
same hand that one shook so warmly as one left the monastery, 
now weakly fumbling with swathed fingers for food along the 
slab of the prison in which the abbot now is sealed up for life ; for 
he was going into the darkness very soon. 

At Little Gobshi (one had to distinguish it from the better 
known Gobshi, seventeen miles away along the Lhasa road) there 
was, and now probably is again, the finest rug factory in Tibet. 
A large two-storied house with a courtyard was filled entirely 
with the weaving looms of both men and women workers. The 
patterns used are native Tibetan, and the colors are excellently 
blended and rich in themselves. It is difficult for them to make a 
piece of stuff wider than about thirty inches, because their looms 
are of a primitive description, scarcely more advanced than those 
of the Chumbi Valley, nor do they attempt to make a pattern 
larger than can be contained upon a single width. The plain 
orange and maroon rugs are made in narrow strips and sewn to- 
gether to any desired width, but this is not done with the figured 
cloths. The difference in quality between one rug and another is 
often a matter of expert knowledge only. At first one is surprised 



and inclined to resent the great differences in the price of these 
rugs ; two will be shown you, one slightly softer in the pile, per- 
haps also slightly looser in design. You will get that for three 
rupees. The other one, crisper to the touch and, if you will look 
closely, far richer in color, they will not sell you for less than 
twenty-five. But when the eye is once taught to recognize the 
difference, the cheaper rugs are easily seen to be inferior from 
every point of view. They are, however, more than good 
enough for the London market, and this is one of the indus- 
tries at Gyantse which might most profitably be developed. 
Even now if a big London firm were willing to place an order for 
five hundred rugs in Grobshi, that is to say, if it were to buy up 
practically the entire annual output of this first factory in Tibet, 
it could, while it held the monopoly, charge almost any price it 
liked to London buyers and obtain it. It is an experiment which 
is, perhaps, worth the attention of Farringdon Street Without. In 
those halcyon days at Gyantse I wrote to Lord Curzon in London 
and offered to act as commercial traveler for any firm which cared 
to make a trial of these really beautiful things, but long before an 
answer could be sent, times had changed and we were prisoners 
in Chang-lo. 

The village of Gobshi, which, like so many other villages in 
Tibet, is divided into two entirely distinct parts, separated by a 
waste of common-like land dotted with willow thorn, is not un- 
interesting. It lies comfortably among its trees, with a truant 
channel of the main river plashing lazily over hard pebbles 
within a few hundred yards. Overhanging it to the north is a 
very sharp conical rock, surmounted by an orange-colored build- 
ing, which attracts the eye from afar. This is the residence of the 
local magician. He only resides there during such part of the 
year as the young crops are in danger from damage by the wea- 
ther. He then takes up his residence, and is ready at any moment 
with due incantations to deliver a charm against lightning or hail 


to a timid countryman. The charms against hail are large cir- 
cular sheets, adorned, not in the most delicate way, with figures 
of the four Winds. These figures are represented bound and 
shackled, to signify the supernatural power exerted by the magi- 
cian ; pointing at them from the inscribed center are the eight in- 
struments of power: the Dorje, the bow and arrow, the sword, 
the double purbu, the flame-like knife, the scepter, and one other 
thing that might be anything. 

These magicians occupy a very curious position. They are all 
now sanctioned by the Gelukpa hierarchy, but this does not mean 
that they have always been obedient and loyal members of the 
orthodox church. As a matter of fact, many of them remain dis- 
ciples of the Beun-pa, or aboriginal devil worshipers of the coun- 
try. This sect is bitterly opposed in every way to the tenets of 
Buddhism, and it is only on this point that a truce has been pro- 
claimed. The reason of this is clear enough. Successful in all 
other ways, the Yellow lamas have never been able wholly to 
transfer to themselves by the exercise of wizardry the deepest awe 
of the plain village peasants of Tibet. These men continued to 
pay their tribute of terror to the old autochthonous sorcerer, 
whose tradition and succession were undoubted. The authorities 
of Lhasa were shrewd enough to recognize the one case in which 
the invincible ignorance, which they deliberately foster in their 
flock, has turned to their own harm. They accepted and indorsed 
the magicians of the countryside en bloc, making no distinction 
of creed. By these means the sorcerer works hand in hand with 
the lamas of the district, and thereout, we may be sure, they both 
suck no small advantage. There is in Lhasa the head of all these 
magicians, but it is necessary at this moment to draw a sharp line 
of distinction between him, a responsible and revered reincarna- 
tion—whose authority is hardly less than that of the Dalai Lama, 
and whose position, though different, is scarcely less venerated — 
and these local magicians, whose scope is very different from his. 


To a small degree every great gompa in Tibet trades upon the 
influence of occultism upon the Tibetan peasants. Charms and 
written mantras are by no means issued by the magicians alone. 
The katags, which lie sometimes in heaped-up confusion over the 
shoulders of the chief Buddha of a monastery, can afterward be 
sold in fragments, and few relics are more potent. These little 
charms, to which reference has already been made, are worn 
round the neck, in what the Tibetans call a gau-o. These are little 
boxes, of silver as a rule, thickly set with turquoise, and suspended 
round the neck by necklaces of beads ; in the case of the rich, they 
may be fronted with gold, but this metal is but rarely used for the 
rest of these trinkets. It is used in Tibet in a singularly pure state, 
and in the economical amounts with which the Tibetans are 
obliged to be satisfied would not be strong enough. Men, espe- 
cially when going on some dangerous expedition, carry much 
larger gau-os of copper, upon which the monogrammatic symbol 
of the great mantra is embossed by repousse work. These also are 
always stuffed with relics and charms of different kinds; every- 
thing, it might almost be said, in Tibet that is capable of being 
stuffed is full of these little luck-bringing spells or charms. The 
biggest idols are packed with paper and silk charms, interspersed 
here and there with small brass images and occasionally silver 
ones. To this fact unfortunately the destruction of several of the 
larger idols — which were afterward " taboo " to the troops — was 
due at Gyantse. Lieutenant-Colonel Waddell gives, in his learned 
and careful work upon Lamaism, a large number of instances of 
the cases in which these charms are used, and the ritual employed. 

One odd fact came under our notice. The charms issued from 
Lhasa to the Tibetan soldiers opposing our advance included pro- 
tection against almost every known material used in war. After 
Guru, some of the wounded who were being tended by us were 
asked whether their faith were shaken or not ; they, in some sur- 
prise, entirely repudiated the idea. " We did not know in Lhasa 


what metals we should guard ourselves against : lead and iron, and 
steel and copper, and silver, none of these could have hurt us ; but 
we did not even know that there was a metal called nickel ; there- 
fore no charm was given us to protect us against your bullets." 
The unwinding of a grimy little silk-covered packet from the in- 
side of a gau-o is rather an interesting occupation; the contents 
are cleaner than might be thought. One of the oddest things I 
found in any was a little pebble with the thumb imprint of the 
Dalai Lama upon it in vermilion. Unfortunately damp had 
blurred the lines. 

The prayers printed on the prayer-flags of Tibet are generally 
identical in arrangement and, perhaps, also in the words of the 
prayer. In Gyantse I bought one of the wood-blocks, from which 
these flags are printed; it is a curious piece of careful and not 
ineffective wood engraving. It is about sixteen inches in length 
and twelve inches in width. This is about the largest size that 
is used ; the flag, being attached to the mast perpendicularly, only 
allows a thin upright fringe to be printed, and you will find fifteen 
or twenty repetitions of the same prayer, reaching one above an- 
other all the way up the mast. These " flying horses " (lung-ta) 
were probably mistaken by the traveler who originated the idea 
that the Tibetans sent horses to belated wayfarers by throwing to 
the winds pieces of paper with the figure of a horse printed upon 
it. It is quite possible that this may actually have been done, but 
continued inquiry on my part elicited no corroboration whatever. 

To return to the country surrounding Gyantse. The monas- 
tery at Dongtse, twelve miles away toward Shigatse, the sacred 
residence of the Sinchen Lama, was visited by O'Connor, Wilton, 
and myself very soon after our arrival at Chang-lo. 

The road to Dongtse serpentines across the wide level plain of 
the Nyang chu, idly acquiescing in the obstacles which villages, 
water-courses, field boundaries, chortens, houses, or irrigation 


ditches throw in its way. The patchwork of cultivated fields, 
some no larger than allotments, none more than an acre in area, 
reminds one of high farming in Berkshire, so jealously is every 
square foot made to serve the owners and grow its patch of 
barley. There are no trees, no hedges, not even a weed. The 
very dikes which restrain the irrigation channels are grudged 
from the rich, dry, gray loam, as fertile as the Darling Downs. 

Agriculture is a serious business with the Tibetans. Here and 
there, but very rarely, the darkened garnet or dirty amber of a 
lama's dress adds a note of color to the thirsty stretch of alluvial 
soil, fenceless and flat. But generally the work is done by quiet 
little figures, whose patched gray dresses are blotted out among 
their own furrows and whose very existence is often betrayed 
only by the slow plod and turn of the scarlet and white head- 
dressed yaks in the plow-yoke. Among these people there is no 
shyness, scarcely even curiosity. The spring work has to be done, 
and there is no one but themselves to do it — perhaps the yaks can 
only be borrowed from friend Tsering up at the hamlet for this 
day; perhaps, too, the lamas will exact their corvee to-morrow. 
And there is much to do. Meanwhile these strange foreigners 
can wait to be inspected. 

Always, of course, there was civility as we rode by. The Tib- 
etan peasant's manners are perfect. The small boy jumps off the 
harrow upon which he has been having a ride, and, stopping his 
song, bows with his joined hands in front of his face, elbows up, 
and right knee bent. A householder smiles, exhibits two inches 
of tongue, and gives a Napoleonic salute as we pass by, pulling 
his cap down over his face to his chest. Rosy-backed and 
breasted sparrows fly in a twittering company before us through 
the gray-white sallowthorn brake, and a vivid golden wagtail 
flirts his tail beside a puddle. Redstarts sit on the top of prayer 
poles, and hoopoes flash black and white wings by the stream. 
Ruddy sheldrake and bar-headed geese barely move aside from a 


wet patch of recent plow-land as we approach, and iridescent 
black-green magpies, half as large again as our English luck- 
bringers, keep pace beside us with their dipping flight. The sun 
is hard and vivid, and the flat plain shivers a little in the heat, 
confusing the lines of leafless willows beside a whitewashed mill. 
There is promise of foliage, but no more. The houses are streaked 
perpendicularly with wide welts of Indian red and ash-gray, and 
long strings of many-colored little flags droop between their 
housetops and the nearest tree. Tibetan " mastiffs " bark from 
every roof until the housewife quiets them with a stone. She 
throws better than her European sister, in spite of a grimy coral 
and turquoise halo round her head and a baby on her left arm. 

The story of the last Sinchen Lama is one which it is worth 
while to tell. He was the seventh in succiession of one of the 
most important secondary reincarnations of Lamaism. His abode 
has always been at Dongtse, but his predecessors were buried 
with great ceremony each under a gilded chorten at Tashi-lhunpo, 
the metropolis of the province of Tsang. The last Sinchen Lama 
was the man who in 1882 received Sarat Chandra Das, and ex- 
tended to him continual patronage and hospitality. In the narra- 
tive of his journey the famous spy refers to him repeatedly as 
" the minister." He was, as a matter of fact, minister of tem- 
poral affairs of the province of Tsang at this time, and a most 
important man. On his way to his first interview with his patron 
Chandra Das passed in the market place of Tashi-lhunpo a party 
of prisoners loaded with chains, pinioned by wooden clogs, and in 
some cases blinded. It was an ugly omen of the end. To the 
Sinchen Lama's influence Chandra Das owed the facilities which 
enabled him eventually to make his way to Lhasa, and that he 
was not ungrateful is clear in every line in which he refers to his 
patron. The minister seems to have been in his way strangely 
like that enlightened Grand Lama of Tashi-lhunpo who received 
Bogle in 1774; he was anxious to improve his knowledge of the 


world, and especially of English affairs; he even attempted to 
learn our language, and he seems throughout to have been a 
broad-minded, intelligent, and sympathetic man, Chandra Das 
stayed with him for some time at Dongtse, on his way to Lhasa. 
A year or two after Chandra Das had returned to India the truth 
leaked out about his individuality. The Lhasan Government 
threw the entire blame upon the carelessness of the authorities in 
the province of Tsang. Upon the Sinchen Lama they visited 
their anger in a fearful manner. His servants were taken— all 
except one — they were beaten, their hands and feet were cut off, 
their eyes were gouged out, and they were left to die in the streets 
of Tashi-lhunpo. The Sinchen Lama was reserved for another 
fate. He was taken to Gong-kar, a fort on the right bank of the 
Tsahg-po, a few miles below the confluence of the Kyi-chu. 

The rest of the story must be told as it is believed by the com- 
mon people, who had known and loved the Lama in his life. A 
message was received from Lhasa to the effect that the Sinchen 
Lama must commit suicide. This he quietly refused to do. He 
said, " I am indeed in your hands; you will do with me what 
seems good to you. But I will not kill myself, and if you kill me, 
you will incur for yourselves a terrible reincarnation." This an- 
swer produced another peremptory demand that the Lama should 
lay violent hands upon himself. To this the Lama made no re- 
ply at all. The days went on, and at last the authorities in Lhasa 
determined to take his life, though they still hoped that they 
might avoid the awful consequences to themselves of blood- 
guiltiness. A boat was taken, and innumerable holes of different 
sizes were bored in her. In this the Lama was placed, and he was 
sent spinning down the current of the great river. Thus he would 
be drowned, but to the ingenious minds of the hierarchy it seemed 
that the responsibility lay perhaps with their victim, whose weight 
would have sunk the unseaworthy craft. Blood, at any rate,* 
would not have been spilled. But the Lama was in no way dis- 


mayed ; he raised a prayer, and fishes innumerable came ; they in- 
truded their blunt noses into the holes in the boat, and slowly pro- 
pelled it safely to the shore. The Lama disembarked and walked 
quietly back to his prison. The news of this miracle produced 
but momentary consternation in Lhasa ; the brute creation might 
indeed be at the orders of this holy man, but die he must; they 
must try another way. Therefore, almost immediately, another 
attempt was made; large rocks of granite were bound upon his 
back, and he was once more thrown into the river. But again 
they had reckoned unwisely. If the Sinchen Lama's life were to 
be taken, the sin of murder must accompany it. This was the 
eternal law, and as the sainted Lama's body touched the water, the 
rocks were turned into pumice stone, and his friendly fishes soon 
nuzzled him again to shore. Thereafter Lhasa grew desperate. 
They sent a wicked man, a Kashmiri Mohammedan, for whom 
the prospect of reincarnation as a louse had no terrors, and the 
Sinchen Lama's head was hacked from his body.^ 

Nor was this all. Having destroyed the body, the hierarchy 
at Lhasa proceeded to annihilate the soul. No further reincar- 
nation of the Sinchen Lama has been recognized from that day. 
In the long gallery of reincarnated Bodisats who occupy the chief 
place of Lamaism there is one frame, as there is in the Venetian 
ducal palace, blank and empty. This has been a very serious 
trouble to the good people of Dongtse, and they are apparently 
not without sympathizers at Lhasa. A few years after the mur- 
der of their loved Lama a child was admitted into the Ga-den 
monastery. He had been born immediately after the crime, and 
to the awe-struck amazement of the ruling lamas he exhibited the 
one final proof of Sinchen Lamaship. His left kneecap was ab- 
sent. That child lives still, and in sullen determination the peo- 

^ This is the native tale, and it is almost a pity to correct it in any particu- 
lar. Another story is that the Sinchen Lama with his hands tied behind him 
was thrown into the river and never seen again.. 


pie of Dongtse are but waiting till their Lama shall be restored 
to them. Meanwhile Dongtse is in a parlous state. Its religious 
life has been broken into and a stranger imported from another 
province to rule over them. Down in the town below affairs are 
no better. The Pala family which reigned in the great palace un- 
derneath the hill is exiled and expropriated. A government 
chanzi, or bailiff, collects the rents and pays them over to the 
man who by auction obtained the beneficiary rights of the de- 
posed family. At Dongtse it is said that those rents are paid over 
to a member of the family, and certainly the local bailiff seems to 
be in a difficult position, for the offense for which the Pala family 
was banished was merely that of having abetted the late Regent in 
retaining temporal power in his hands after the coming of age 
of the Dalai Lama. At any moment, therefore, the Pala family 
may be reinstated in their property with unpleasant powers of 

Our small party — one of us the only servant of the Sinchen 
Lama who had escaped death — reached Dongtse about noon, and 
immediately climbed the hill on which the monastery stands ; we 
were received with the greatest friendliness by the abbot, and one 
or two of the senior monks. The great temple was hardly as 
richly endowed with silver and jeweled ornaments as we had been 
told. It was curious to watch the Shebdung Lama as he wandered 
round the old familiar halls. For many years he had been an ex- 
ile, and he had never believed that he would see the home of his 
loved master again, and as he put his forehead on the lip of the 
lotus throne, upon which the great Buddha of the place was 
seated, and so remained motionless for ten seconds, there must 
have passed through his mind something strangely like Nunc 
dimittis Domine. For this man's love for his murdered master 
after eighteen years is still as fresh to-day as when they lived at 
peace on this hillside of the Nyang chu Valley, and in all the 
time since, the Shebdung Lama's only happiness has been bound 


up with the memories of his life here. He could hardly speak as 
we entered the shrine, and was again visibly affected when we 
ascended to the actual rooms occupied by the Sinchen Lama. 

• These consist of a set of well-painted chambers, opening out 
one from another. In the main room, still empty and forlorn, 
save for a table containing a hundred little brass bowls filled with 
water, there is one of the strangest things in Tibet. The Sinchen 
Lama, continuing the series of his ancestors painted round the 
wall, had also a record of his own life and ministry painted in a 
series of scenes by an artist. His own portraiture is encircled by 
these little pictures ; the figure of the Lama is purely conventional, 
a mild-eyed, celestial face with a pursed up rosebud mouth. 
Round him there is a series of stiff little drawings not without 
some strength, recording from his birth, passage by passage, the 
events of his momentous life. Now these were painted in the 
happy days before Chandra Das came. 

At the end of this record there is the strange thing. There is 
in a corner the picture of a fortified house, and, above it, the pic- 
ture of a man who has been thrown into a stream of water. But 
there is no such appended written description as may be seen be- 
neath other scenes depicted on the wall. The artist requested him 
to dictate the legend for these two pictures. The Lama refused ; 
he said, " These two incidents shall remain undescribed ; one day 
you will understand." We were assured there that the house 
painted on the wall bears a strong resemblance to Gong-kar jong ; 
the meaning of the last scene is obvious enough. There the two 
pictures are, and in its main lines the story must be a true one, but 
it is difficult to explain. 

Immediately beyond this series of pictures is the most touching 
thing I have seen in the country. In sheer gratitude to the only 
companion of his lonely exaltation, far removed from the com- 
mon friendship of men, the Sinchen Lama had painted upon the 
wall his little shaggy-haired dog, feeding out of a blue and white 


china bowl. I do not know that anything in the record of this 
man could tell the story of his kindly sympathy and humanity so 
well as this ill-drawn little figure. 

We spent an hour or two there, and had tea, both with the 
abbot of the monastery and with the occupants of the Pala palace 
in the town below ; then we set off for home in the middle of the 
afternoon, facing south-east to where the high fort-crowned peak 
of Gyantse rose indistinctly, amid the daily driving dust-storm 
which wrapped its base and indeed all the valley in a tawny fog. 

Ne-nyeng — or, as it was invariably known, Nai-ni — was an- 
other place which was afterward to become of great interest and 
importance to us. Seven miles away to the south, just before 
the valley opened out from the gorges of the Nyang chu, it 
commanded our road to India, and was the scene three or four 
times of fighting between the Tibetans and ourselves. Ne- 
nyeng lies in an amphitheater of steep hills; looking at it from 
across the river the sight was typically Eastern, and might have 
been a theater " back-cloth," painted with the deliberate intention 
of including every suggestion of the Orient; but he would have 
been a clever man who limned such a scene as this. All round 
this half-circle of converging spurs the plain hot rock glared at 
one. The line cut by its upper cornices against the sky was 
harsh and exact. The blue that descended into the ravines and 
arched the peaks was cloudless and whitened; on one conical 
hill, almost inaccessible, sat a square yellow block-house com- 
manding the town from a height of a thousand feet. A little 
lower down, when the eye got used to the glare, another and 
stronger fort, built of the very rock on which it rested, could 
just be made out by the straightness of its lines. In the middle 
of this great recess the river flats stretched white and dusty, 
draining down by a slackening gradient from the clefts of the 
amphitheater. Just where it gained its equilibrium, Ne-nyeng 


rose in a garden of greenery. The square white houses bhnked 
in the sun, the high unchecked line of the square building in 
the center of the town, half monastery, half keep, showed up 
dustily above the flat roofs of the houses, which cling to it for 

Between us and the town the sweeping river cuts its way, 
leaving perpendicular banks of pebbled banquette purple in the 
shades and amber in the sun, for all the world like the moldings 
of a clustered Gothic pillar. We had little to do with the in- 
habitants, except in an unpleasant manner. Now and again 
they fired upon our mail runners, and eventually the place had 
to be cleared when the relieving force was nearing Gyantse. 
There was in this monastery, if some of the reports are to be 
believed, a reincarnation in the form of a little girl, of about 
six years old. We never heard anything more about her; the 
story seems unlikely, because there was no nunnery in the place. 
The only monastery over which a woman presides in Tibet is 
that of Sam-ding, where the Phag-mo Dorje was reigning many 
centuries before the coming of the " new woman " in the West. 

In this connection one thing was frankly admitted by the Tib- 
etans. We were often surprised to find the monasteries stripped 
of their valuable and most precious ornaments upon our arrival. 
Without any hesitation the monks would admit that they had 
all been taken away, and put in the nearest nunnery, because, 
they said, the English people do not attack women, and do not 
enter nunneries. It was a simple device and one that implied 
no small compliment. 



COLONEL YOUNGHUSBAND occupied Chang-lo on the 
19th of April with a force of about four hundred and 
fifty men. He had also about fifty mounted infantry, two Max- 
ims, and two ancient seven-pounder field-pieces, now officially 
discarded, which, in their popular nicknames " Bubble and 
Squeak," were at once described and appraised. This force was 
amply sufficient to defend the place against any attack that the 
Tibetans could deliver. They, however, seemed in no way will- 
ing to test the defensibility of Chang-lo; and nothing could 
have been more peaceful than the reception of the British force, 
not at Gyantse only, but for a score of miles up and down the 
valley. It is true, that for our expeditions beyond the imme- 
diate neighborhood of the post, two or three mounted infantry 
were always taken as an escort, but we imagined no danger, and 
nothing seemed less probable than that which actually occurred. 
I am quite certain that the events of the 5th of May were not 
less surprising — and a great deal more dismaying — to the good 
people of Gyantse than they were to ourselves. In the last chap- 
ter I have described one or two visits paid somewhat far afield 
in the Nyang chu Valley, and it will be clear that nothing could 
have exceeded the hospitality and, in most cases, the welcome 
which we received. At Gyantse itself, the friendliness of the in- 
habitants was almost excessive. We afterward found that from 
the date of our expedition till the 4th of May, the servants 
of the Mission (who were unavoidably under less strict mili- 



tary surveillance than other followers) not infrequently spent 
the entire night within the town enjoying themselves among 
their Tibetan kin, with results on the following morning 
which were more natural than edifying. It need not be said 
that as soon as this was discovered the military authorities made 
a severe example of the chief offenders. Shopping in Gyantse 
was an almost daily amusement. The great Palkhor-choide 
monastery was willingly opened to us by the abbot, and the mem- 
bers of the Mission looked forward to a pleasant two months' 
stay in one of the most interesting cities of Tibet, and a full 
enjoyment of the extraordinary opportunities which the undis- 
guised friendliness of our neighbors promised. 

More than this. Captain Walton, the surgeon and natural 
history expert attached to the Mission, had invited the Tibetans 
to make the fullest use of his own skill and the medical equip- 
ment of the Mission; and, as a result, he soon had as many 
cases as he could deal with. By preference he selected cases 
requiring surgical treatment, and many unfortunate wretches 
disabled by cataract or disfigured by a particularly hideous form 
I of hare-lip, which is common in Tibet, were relieved by him. 

Everything was peaceful. There was not a cloud on the ho- 
rizon. The dak ran through from the Chumbi Valley without 
interruption, day after day. The British intruders had given 
commissions freely in the town, and the local artists were work- 
ing overtime to execute orders for " tang-kas." Carpenters from 
Pala attended daily in the compound and worked from morn to 
night upon the furniture needed for the post. Their use of tools, 
by the way, which seemed in most cases to be of European origin, 
was extremely quick and certain, and the work which the adze 
was made to do would have surprised the British carpenter. 
Planes, saws, bradawls, and, in rare cases, chisels, were also 
used; but nothing showed originality or suggested any device 
that might possibly be used to advantage at home except a little 


machine, simple, ingenious, and compact, for marking a straight 
line upon wood by means of a thread loaded with black pigment. 
Gardeners also were called in, and the courtyard in front of 
the Commissioner's tent was carefully dug up, divided into 
beds, and manured. There the seeds which the Mission had 
brought from home were hopefully planted, and beans, peas, 
cabbages, scarlet-runners, onions, and mustard-and-cress were 
sown with an almost religious care — in return for which, it 
must be confessed that only the last-mentioned vegetables pro- 
duced any return. Still, the experiment was well worth making, 
and, incidentally, it had the effect of laying the dust in the com- 
pound—by no means a slight blessing. To tend this garden a 
worthy Tibetan lady, with her two husbands, was hired; and 
if her treatment of her brother-spouses was characteristic of 
Tibetan domesticity as a whole there is perhaps more to be said 


for this strange custom than a somewhat bigotedly monogamous 
nation like England could be expected at first sight to admit. 
" Mrs. Wiggs," as she at once came to be known, was certainly 
the moving spirit in her own domestic circle, and the work that 
she got out of her pair of semi-imbecile husbands was quite ex- 

Outside the compound a bazaar was dail^ held, and over one 
hundred Tibetan men and women made it a daily practice to 
come with the small commodities of the place and spend a cheer- 
ful and, probably, not unlucrative morning in chaffering with 
the Sikhs and Gurkhas of the garrison. The afternoon weather, 
but for clouds of dust that blew eastward from Dongtse, was 
perfect; and though the trees were long in showing the first 
sign of spring, the lot of the Mission seemed cast in a fair 
ground indeed. 

While everything round us was pointing toward peace and 
good-will, the action of Colonel Brander in clearing the Karo la 
Pass needs some explanation. A week after our arrival the 


rumor came from a trustworthy source that the Tibetans were 
fortifying this pass ; but as we had never deceived ourselves into 
believing that our presence in the country was even acqui- 
esced in at Lhasa, the news was neither surprising nor dis- 
quieting. The pass, or rather the actual position across which 
the wall was being built, was over forty-five miles from Gyantse, 
and at the moment it lay somewhat outside the sphere of bur 
immediate interest. Round us at Gyantse, there was, as I have 
said, every indication of perfect tranquillity, and even welcome. 
All up and down the valley agricultural work had been resumed, 
and there is no doubt that somewhere about this time the men 
of Shigatse definitely refused to obey the orders of the Dalai 
Lama to take the field again against us. Another matter which 
made it even almost impossible that there should be any immedi- 
ate friction was the fact that the Amban himself had received, 
and was still considering, an invitation to negotiate at Gyantse. 
Matters, however, seemed somewhat affected by news which 
came in by a special despatch rider on May ist — that a reconnoi- 
tering party of ours, with a mounted escort of fifty men, had 
been fired upon two days previously from the Tibetan fortifica- 
tion. The affair in itself was not perhaps of the highest impor- 
tance. Our own intentions were entirely peaceful, and we had 
found no unfriendliness at any point on the journey to the Karo 
la. We sustained no casualties, though the sudden heart failure 
of one of the Sikhs at the unaccustomed altitude was naturally 
hailed by the jeering Tibetans as proof of the skill of their 
marksmen. We made no reply except two or three shots to keep 
down the enemy's fire while we retired; we inflicted no casual- 
ties.^ But, though unimportant in itself, this encounter was not 
without its significance. In the first place, it put an end finally 
to any hope of the Amban coming to negotiate at Gyantse, and, 

Of this, however, I am uncertain. It was afterward said 
in Lhasa that two were killed. 


though this refusal was not unexpected, the disinclination of 
Lhasa to take any steps whatever to open up amicable relations 
with us was hereby exhibited in a somewhat unmistakable man- 
ner. Nor was this all. From the Karo la toward Gyantse, ten or 
twelve miles of an easy route brings one to Ra-lung. At Ra- 
lung there is a division of the way, the main road running thence 
westerly to Gyantse and ultimately to Shigatse. It is, in fact, 
part of the main thoroughfare between the two capitals of Tibet. 
From Ra-lung another road runs due south-west through Nyero 
to Kang-ma, and upon this road we had no post. It was at 
once obvious that the defenders of the wall on the Karo la 
might, entirely unknown to us, move in two days upon our 
line of communication to the south and cause us serious in- 
convenience by the re-occupation of Kang-ma. The position, 
therefore, was, that while we had no fear of the least unfriendli- 
ness in the Nyang chu Valley, Lhasa was obviously prepared 
to withstand us by force of arms, and might at any time compel 
us seriously to weaken the little garrison at Gyantse in order ' 
to relieve the post at Kang-ma, and re-obtain control of our com- 

There was, however, an understanding with Lhasa that, until 
negotiations at Gyantse were shown to be impossible, we should 
not move further along the route to the capital. The detach- 
ment of a force sufficient to clear the Karo la would, moreover, 
cripple the garrison at Chang-lo; nor could we possibly hold 
the pass, although we might without great loss secure it for the 
moment. On the one hand it might be argued that our prestige, 
as well as our line of communications, was in danger, and that 
the presence of a large and well-armed body of Tibetans hold- 
ing the best strategical position between Gyantse and Lhasa might 
speedily undermine the existing friendliness of our neighbors. 
On the other hand there is no doubt that popular opinion in 
England would have been seriously affected by the news that we 


had again assumed the offensive unless, of course, the necessity 
were overwhelming. 

Such was the situation with which Colonel Younghusband 
had to deal when Colonel Brander, commanding the post, laid 
before him an urgent request that he would sanction the imme- 
diate dispersal of the fifteen hundred Tibetans who had been 
located at the Karo la. One of the difficulties which every ex- 
pedition subject to a twin control must experience is the ex- 
treme reluctance of the political authorities to interfere in the 
slightest degree with the operations of their responsible mili- 
tary escort. Colonel Younghusband appreciated to the full the 
pros and cons of this proposal, and, in giving his unreserved 
assent to Colonel Brander's suggestion, he was no doubt in- 
fluenced by the conviction that all chance of negotiation at Gy- 
antse was not only at an end, but had never really existed. At 
all costs the Tibetans must be made to respect our strength, 
and against such an enemy as we had before us, the effect of 
a successful blow might at any time turn the scales and convince 
them that further active opposition to our advance was a mere 
act of folly. Colonel Younghusband therefore consented, and 
accordingly, on the 3d of May, Colonel Brander, with two com- 
panies of the 32d Pioneers, one company of Gurkhas, two Max- 
ims, and almost the entire force of mounted infantry, moved 
out to Gobshi, seventeen miles on the road to the Karo la. As 
they set forth news arrived that Tibetan troops were moving up 
the Nyang chu Valley to occupy Dongtse, a post which, it will 
be remembered, lies twelve miles west of Gyantse. Almost at 
the same moment a despatch was received from the Amban, say- 
ing that the Dalai Lama had definitely refused either to satisfy 
his demand for transport, or to answer his request that a properly 
qualified Tibetan should be empowered to deal with the ques- 
tions in dispute between the British and himself. 

Colonel Brander moved rapidly on. At Gobshi he found the 
headman of the village seriously disquieted, and, though he had 


no difficulty in obtaining what he wanted, the wretched villagers 
clearly realized their position between the devil and the deep 
sea. Gobshi itself is a picturesque village with an untenable 
jong, perched upon a tooth of rock half a mile from the Chinese 
post-house, which had attracted to it the little community of the 
" Four Gates." As a matter of fact, if ever a village deserved 
the name of " Three Gates " it is Gobshi, for there, hopelessly 
shut in by mountain spurs and heights almost precipitous, three 
roads, from Gyantse, Nyero, and Ra-lung respectively, meet 
abruptly. Here the Ra-lung chu joins the Nyero chu, and 
shortly below " waters meet " the little town sits precariously 
on the edge of the river cliff, at the end of a wide alluvial terrace, 
a mile in length, which presents, perhaps, the best instance of 
successful cultivation that one can see from the road for eighteen 
miles. From this place until it descends steeply into the valley 
of the Tsang-po, cereal crops will not ripen, though here and 
there they can be used for fodder. After a hasty inspection of 
the Chinese rest-house it was unanimously decided to make no 
use of its grimy and obviously populous accommodation. 

On the next day Colonel Brander moved on up the right bank 
of the Ra-lung-po. Threading his way over the two bridges just 
above the confluence of the rivers, he came in two miles through 
the gorge and out into the easier road which makes its way 
through the poor fields of the Ra-lung Valley. The first place 
one passes is the Kamo monastery, a strange community, in 
which the monks and nuns live a common life together — a thing 
permitted by the Dalai Lama and one that causes no great scan- 
dal even among the strictest disciples of Lamaism, though it 
is regarded as a concession to the weaker brethren. This part 
of Tibet has a Red Cap colony, and the ash-gray, white, and 
Indian-red perpendicular stripes that characterize the buildings 
of this community form for miles a peculiarity in the landscape 
and strikingly relieve its monotony. 

Of that monotony, the dead sameness of mountain tracks 


across the top of the world, it is hard to give any idea. The 
blue sky, of a clearness and depth of color that no less altitude 
can give, vaults over the slippery hill-sides between which the 
thin stream cataracts or spreads itself in runlets across a waste 
of sand. There is no verdure at that time of the year except 
that which is artificially grown on the river-flats where the 
valley is wide enough. Rich umber and light red, seamed and 
filmed with gray purples of the clefts; bald ocher of spurs that 
thrust the water from their feet; bare red of whip-like willows 
growing over a mud wall; coarse grit-colored road, here gray- 
ish with slate, here dun with granite, there again rufous with 
a floor of limestone — these are all the colors except here and 
there, when one meets a hurrying lama, wrapped in his habit of 
dull maroon. As the sun sets the richer pigments, beaten all 
day by his rays into the hot hill-sides, are cooled out of the 
rocks; and as the sunlight is slowly lost in the valleys below 
a faint orange gauze spreads and reddens into carmine on the far 
snowy peaks to- the northeast. 

One side of the river is like the other; you may cross it any- 
where and find the same view, the same road. Perhaps Long-ma, 
well placed upon a bluff overlooking an alluvial flat where 
stunted barley grows, is the most interesting town on the route; 
and the village itself, though quite as dirty as every other in 
Tibet, has, at any rate in the distance, a certain dignity of its 
own, to which, in a rather specious way, the buildings set up 
on the rapidly ascending slope behind the main path of the town 
contribute. There is a large house here which was unoccupied 
and shut up on our arrival, and interested us chiefly because it 
was said to have recently contained a community of Lamaic 
acolytes. From Long-ma to Ra-lung the road is comparatively 
uninteresting. Here and there, in the distance, filling the end 
of the valley, one saw the great white mass of Nichi-kang-sang ; 
here and there steep jutting pinnacles of red rock; here and there 


across the river the remains of a house crumbling on the alhi- 
vial ledge. The river itself runs entirely round the stone but- 
tresses of the fields, and over the waste of uncultivated ground 
a few patches of vetch — at that time without even a promise of 
flower— a few stunted thistles, and the inevitable gray brushes 
of wormwood star the dun naked slopes. Nothing is more strik- 
ing up here than the way in which the dark blue of the sky over- 
head shades quickly down toward the horizon on every side into 
the palest shade of turquoise. The clearness of the air is such 
that not the faintest screen of blue is interposed between oneself 
and the hills four miles away; while the clefts in the glaciers 
of Nichi-kang-sang himself seem as clearly defined at a range 
of fifteen miles as those which criss-cross upon the gravel of the 
further bank. 

Ra-lung was reached on the afternoon of the second day. 
This march of thirty-three miles in forty-eight hours at this al- 
titude was, perhaps, the most creditable feat of endurance of 
the whole campaign. Such distances as these may not seem of 
any particular military interest, or of credit to the troops con- 
cerned, but it must be remembered that the lowest estimate that 
one can fairly place upon the additional labor of marching at 
these high altitudes is a hundred per cent. It is true that the 
actual fatigue to the muscles is hardly increased, and that though 
men may arrive in camp almost dead-beat, an hour or two's rest 
(if they are lucky enough to get it) will always set them up 
again. But the strain on the heart and lungs is terrible, and 
nothing but use can accustom a man living nearly all his life 
in the plains of India to that intense heaviness of both himself 
and his accoutrements which, in these highlands, is the most 
conspicuous sensation. I have elsewhere referred in more de- 
tail to the physical experiences and sufferings of the troops, 
and these circumstances of all our work in Tibet should be 
borne in mind as an ever-present environment, from the first 


climbing of the heights of Changu or Ling-tu to the scaling of 
the little ridge between Potala and Chagpo-ri. 

Ra-lung is divided by a small stream into two parts. The 
Tibetan village lies to the south, a mere cluster of common 
adobe huts whitewashed or in ruins. On the northern side of 
this affluent is the Chinese post-house, set a hundred yards back 
from the edge of the river cliff on the very spot where there 
is one of the curiously marked out camping-grounds used by 
the two Grand Lamas alone. The bridge over the Ra-lung chu 
is a typical line of roughly heaped stone piers, bridged across 
with larger slabs of the same schistose limestone. Crossing 
the river here the main road to Lhasa keeps close beside it on the 
northeastern bank for one or two miles of a bad track. Small 
streams intersect its progress, running in the wet weather in 
a plashy torrent at the bottom of deep-cut ravines; otherwise 
the steep cliff wall comes down sharply on to the very path until 
the last corner is turned and the wide valley of Gom-tang is 
seen spreading out a mile or two wide toward the northwest. 
Here the track leaves the river-side and runs northward over the 
gently sloping highlands beneath the snowy backbone of this 
great spur of the Himalayas. 

Some reference should be made to these hills. A high range 
rises to the elevation of 24,000 feet, through which a deep fissure 
between Nichi-kang-sang on the north and on the south a peak, 
which, I believe, is known in the surveys as D 114, allows the 
road to Lhasa to creep along far down between the gigantic 
ice-fields. To the north and to the south this uplifted stretch 
of snow is carried onward, terminated to the north by the abrupt 
valley of the Rong chu, to the south curving eastward and form- 
ing the snowy southern frontiers of the basin of the Yam-dok tso. 
This description is necessary in order to make clear the impor- 
tance and the military ^kill of the Tibetans' choice of a position 
to defend. No flanking movement is possible, either to the north 


or to the south, unless an invading force is willing to wait 
five days for the co-operation of any mounted column sent 
round by the northern route to come upon the enemy's rear from 
a point within a mile or two of Nagartse. 

After a march of about seven miles from Ra-lung, the road 
keeps well away to the right to avoid the marshes covered with 
hummocky grass, reeds, stunted primulas, and, it must be added, 
quagmires through which the clear brown waters of the Ra-lung 
chu run ice-cold from their snowy source. Across the river 
the plain still extends, sweeping upward between the projecting 
spurs of the western hills in long ascending plains of bare stone. 
As our force reached this point, it seemed only possible to con- 
tinue the march in one direction. The long plain stretched out 
in front, ascending gently until the farthest limits cut upward 
into the sky itself. But this was no road for a laden force, and, 
as a matter of fact, it is not used at all except by shepherds and 
goat-herds in the brief summer months. As I have said, the 
real road to Lhasa turns suddenly inward under the snowy 
shoulders of Nichi-kang-sang ; and over 8,000 feet below the 
gigantic mass of unrelieved ice and snow which forms his high- 
est peak, the ribbon-like track dives abruptly into the river-bed 
beside a little stream which has cut its way through this gigantic 
curtain of rock. 

The gorge that opens here is narrow and the road bad. 
Closely hugging the southern bluff the trang * makes its snowy 
way over the boulders and almost through the waters of this ice- 
fed rivulet. On either side the cliffs rise so steeply that one 
hardly catches a sight of the eternal snows that slope steeply back 
from the crest of these frowning heights. Now and again a 
ravine betrays the sparkling glory of the white ice-cornice against 

* A trang is a track cut out of the cliff beside a stream. There is a steep 
rock on one side and the water immediately below. It is a useful word for a 
feature which is not easily described otherwise. 


the deep blue of the upper sky. In May there is nothing to be 
seen here in the way of plants except the dead sticks of a curious 
thorny scrub, which during its hibernation is of an unusual pink 
color, cobwebbed about with the gray dead filigree of last year's 
leaves. This will burn, and, indeed, it forms the only fuel to be 
found for many miles. 

Sharply ascending, the road after a mile and a half crosses 
the stream, now sparkling in a noisy shallow between the pebbles 
of its bed ; and a climb of another two hundred yards brings one 
into an oval plain which, probably from the fact that in the 
summer the whole extent of it is permeated and saturated with 
water from the melting glaciers, the Tibetans call the Plain 
of Milk.* In May the cold was intense enough, except in the 
middle of the day, largely to reduce the volume of the stream, 
and the force made its way without difficulty over the shales 
and slate of this lonely little flat-bottomed cup buried away 
nearly 17,000 feet above the sea, and ringed in by the eternal 
snow-fields of the Himalayas. 

At the farther end, immediately under a great glacier — one 
infinitesimal projection of the huge land of ice of which Nichi- 
kang-sang is the highest point — the force encamped. The 
mounted infantry had, of course, been sent on ahead. They 
reported that the wall was strongly held by the Tibetans; and 
Colonel Brander, who had accompanied them to a point a mile 
or two further on, within range of the wall itself, made his dis- 
positions for the next day. To the east the Karo la itself, the 
highest point between Lhasa and India, was within an easy 
climb, barely three hundred feet higher than the Plain of Milk. 
Beyond that the valley takes a turn to the northwest between 
precipitous cliffs, ^11 immediately crowned by the snow-fields 
of the Nichi-kang-sang group; and at its narrowest and most 
precipitous point the Tibetans had built an enormous wall. This 
* This is also the name of the plain in which Lhasa stands. 


was, perhaps, the greatest triumph of Tibetan construction that 
we found throughout the expedition. I do not suppose that any 
other nation in the world, with similar means at their disposal, 
could hold their own for half an hour against the Tibetan in this 
one art of wall building. With apparent ease the most enormous 
stones are collected and placed with unerring judgment, and with 
a rapidity which seems almost miraculous to the eye-witness. 
This was no ordinary wall. It was composed of angular and 
well-adjusted pieces of granite about two feet in thickness; the 
loopholes, at a height of about four feet, were constructed with 
wide-angled " splays " permitting an extensive field of fire ; 
and above these carefully made little embrasures there was 
head cover for at least another twelve inches. Between each 
man's recess the Tibetans had built up a partition wall of heavy 
slabs of stone, so that the damage caused by direct shell fire 
was reduced to a minimum, and loss by enfilading shrapnel al- 
most entirely avoided. At this time the wall was about eight 
hundred yards long; the enemy had thrown forward two san- 
gars, one on either side, which at once prevented any chance of 
an easy flanking movement, or, indeed, of our bringing forward 
without danger either the Maxims or the main body of the 
force; and secure in this position they awaited our coming on 
the following morning. 

It was by no means a promising task for the small forces to 
attempt, and whatever anxiety Colonel Brander might naturally 
have entertained as to the rapid success of the enterprise was 
gravely increased by two despatches which an urgent messenger, 
riding through the night, had brought from Gyantse. The first 
was a telegram from General Macdonald, far to the south, ex- 
pressing his disapproval and insisting that the force should in- 
stantly retire, unless it were at the moment of the receipt of the 
orders irrevocably committed to an engagement with the enemy. 
In itself this was not calculated to encourage a man immediately 


confronted with a difficult military problem. That in any case he 
would have regarded himself as irrevocably committed there can 
be no doubt ; retreat under the circumstances would have been a 
serious blunder, even though no actual contact between the two 
forces had yet taken place. But with characteristic loyalty, Colo- 
nel Younghusband, who throughout had accepted full responsi- 
bility for the expedition, appended to it the opinion that under 
no circumstances should the proposed operation be abandoned or 

The other news was much more serious. A postscript to the 
letter, in which Colonel Younghusband confirmed his instructions, 
gave the intelligence that before dawn on the previous morning 
the Mission post at Gyantse had been surrounded by 800 armed 
Tibetans, and that the attack, although beaten off by the reduced 
garrison of the place, had been renewed at once by bombardment 
from the abandoned jong, which had been retaken by another 
column of similar strength. This was grave indeed, and though 
it was necessary to dismiss it from all consideration till the day's 
work in front of him was done, this double intelligence greatly 
increased the anxiety with which Colonel Brander set himself to 
secure, not a victory only, but a victory that must be complete at 
any cost and before nightfall. 

As we have seen, the Tibetans had built sangars on both sides 
of the valley in advance of the wall. Two of these sangars— one 
on each side — were occupied by about thirty men apiece, and 
Major Row and a company of Gurkhas were sent forward to the 
left to secure the northern outwork. At the same time two com- 
panies of the 32d Pioneers had been sent down the river-bed to- 
ward the wall. One, under Captain Bethune, arrived almost at 
the barrier itself, but so heavy was the fire from the loopholes, and 
so impossible any effective reply, that cover had to be taken under 
the river bank itself, some two or three hundred yards away. The 
second company, under Captain Cullen, fought its way across an 


open stretch of ground to comparative security within a fold in the 
ground, about the same distance from the wall. Further advance 
was impossible, though Captain Bethune very early in the day 
made a magnificent but doomed attempt to carry the wall by as- 
sault. It was here that he was killed, close under the very wall 
itself; according to one account he was at the moment of his 
death even clutching the barrel of a protruding matchlock. He 
was killed on the instant, and the force thereby lost the most popu- 
lar, and, perhaps, also the most capable of the junior regimental 
officers. The Sikhs under his command retreated to their former 
cover and held their places for the remainder of the day. 

A small body of Pioneers had been detached to drive the enemy 
from the sangar which was being held on the southern slope, op- 
posite to that toward which Major Row was now advancing; but 
it was almost impossible to climb the slippery shale slopes, which 
had already assumed their utmost angle of repose; there was no 
cover, and it was necessary to abandon this direct attack. There- 
upon Colonel Brander had recourse to an heroic measure. A 
dozen men under a native officer, Wassawa Singh, were sent up 
the almost perpendicular face of the 1,500-foot southern scarp,, 
in order that from the ice field above they might enfilade the san- 
gar which was the chief obstacle to a direct attack upon the wall. 

Meanwhile, on the left the Gurkhas had pressed on pluckily 
over the difficult sliding surface of the northern slope, now glis- 
sading for a dozen feet, now helping each other up over a difficult 
spur ; here creeping under a projecting shelf on hands and knees^ 
there making a quick dash across an open space, but always under 
a steady and pretty well directed fire from the sangar they had 
been told to clear. After a time advance along their present line 
was seen to be impossible, and the whole action of the morning 
was suspended while Major Row detailed a few of his small 
force to climb the rock face overhead commanding the enemy's 
sangar. For two hours it was the guns only that answered the fire 


from the wall and from the sangars. There was a deadlock, and 
if no means could be found to drive the enemy from the advanced 
defenses which they were holding so gallantly, there seemed in- 
deed little chance of doing anything more until nightfall. It was 
an anxious moment, and Colonel Brander did not spare himself. 
Up with the Maxims, within easy range of the Tibetan rifles, he 
watched the developments of the fight. 

But little by little the almost indistinguishable dots moved up- 
ward along the face of the cliff to the south. A deep chimney 
afforded them both protection from the Tibetans manning the 
wall, and the bare possibility of an ascent. What the hardship 
must have been of climbing up to an altitude which could not 
have been less than 18,500 feet it is difficult for the ordinary 
reader to conceive. Hampered alike by his accoutrements and 
by the urgent anxiety for rapidity, Wassawa Singh still gave his 
men but scanty opportunities of rest. It was such a climb as many 
a member of the Alpine Club would, under the best circumstances, 
have declined to attempt, and the Order of Merit which was after- 
ward conferred upon Wassawa Singh was certainly one of the 
most hardly earned distinctions of the campaign. 

Still, in spite of everything, the little figures crept upward, and 
at last reached the line of perpetual snow, where they could be 
seen clambering and crawling against the dazzling surface of 
white. There was still a long way for them to go when an out- 
break of fire from the southern slope of the valley showed that 
Major Row's men had established themselves above the enemy's 
right-hand sangar. A brisk crackle of musketry broke out; the 
exchanges were heavy, but the issue was never in any doubt. 
Covered by the fire from the party above. Major Row led the 
main body forward over the unprotected glacis, at the upper end 
of which the little fort had been made. The enemy's fire slack- 
ened, broke out again, and finally died down as the surviving Tib- 
etans flung away their guns and attempted to escape down the 


almost perpendicular slope of the hill. Not one of them got away. 
The wretched men one after another scrambled amid the pitiless 
bullets that pecked up the dust all round, and then slid in an inert 
mass till they lay quiet on the road below. 

With a cheer that we could hear with odd distinctness in the 
bottom of the valley, the Gurkhas sprang forward and captured 
the post. But even then much remained to do. The holders of 
the southern sangar kept up as steady a fire as before at any one 
who showed himself, and it was impossible to move on from the 
recently captured outpost so as to enfilade the main position, 
which ended on the north against a precipitous cliff. For up- 
ward of an hour the fight again languished. Nothing could be 
seen of Wassawa Singh and his little force; they had taken a 
course which was hidden behind the edge of the rock and ice 
above us. 

Nothing in Tibet is more curiously deceptive than the little 
upright boulders which stand, for all the world like men, against 
the sky line of the hills, and time after time a false alarm was 
given that the Pioneers had at last reached the mountain brow 
from which they could enfilade the enemy. At last, however, 
one of the stones upon which our glasses had been fixed for so 
long seemed to move and, half-fainting over it, a tiny figure 
halted and unslung the miniature rifle into its right hand. He 
was joined in a moment by another, and his comrades in the 
valley below gave the first warning to the defenders of the 
sangar by raising a thin distant cheer. The enemy did not wait ; 
not more than four or five of the escalading force had reached 
their goal before the Tibetans bolted from their advanced post 
and ran back across the open coverless slopes of the mountain- 
side to the protection of the great wall. In a moment the fire 
was concentrated upon the fugitives, not only from three points 
of the compass, but from angles which must have varied nearly 
180°. There may have been about twenty-five men in the sangar: 


of these two or three were hit at once, and the remainder, clam- 
bering and sprawling over the slippery shale, made their way 
back in a rain of bullets. Rifle fire is one of the most unaccount- 
able things in the world. Judging by the standards of the 
shooting range it would seem impossible that even one man 
should have escaped from this converging battery ; as a matter of 
fact, though the aim was fairly good, that of Lieutenant Hadow's 
Maxim being especially well managed, I do not think that of the 
remainder more than five men fell before the shelter of the wall 
was reached. But the day was won; for the Tibetans behind 
the wall, who cannot have lost more than two or three men 
throughout the whole day, and whose position was really hardly 
weakened as yet, fled as one man back down the valley of the 
Karo chu. We afterward heard that all day long there had 
been a steady melting away of this force, and that in consequence 
reinforcements of 500 men from Nagartse, sixteen miles down 
the road, had been sent up to stiffen the courage of the waverers. 

We found, on passing over the wall, that the tents were still 
standing, the fires still alight, and the water in the cooking ves- • 
sels still boiling. Furs, blankets, horse furniture, spears, powder- 
flasks, quick-match, bags of tsamba, skins of butter, tightly 
stuffed cushions, everything was there as the Tibetans had left it 
in their haste ; but almost no rifles or matchlocks were recovered. 

By the time the force had secured the position Captain Ottley, 
with his mounted infantry, was hurrying after the flying hordes. 
At one time it seemed more than likely that his little force of 
fifty or sixty men would be surrounded by the compact body of 
reinforcements which was halting for a rest at Ring-la nine miles 
away, when the dreaded mounted infantry swept round the cor- 
ner. Never was the inherent incapacity of the Tibetan as a sol- 
dier better shown. There is no doubt that the very names of 
Ottley and the mounted infantry were associated by this time 
in the minds of the Tibetans with an almost superhuman strength 











and invulnerability. These reinforcements, which consisted to a 
great extent of monks, made almost no attempt to defend them- 
selves, but fled in all directions up the ravines and clefts of the 
sides of the valley— anywhere out of the reach of the " Night- 
mare " and his men. The blow inflicted upon the enemy was 
trebled by this successful pursuit, and in Lhasa afterward we 
heard that the Tibetans themselves admitted 600 casualties. This 
is certainly an over-statement, made partly in order to justify 
their expulsion from so strong a position, partly also to persuade 
the authorities that it was no longer any use attempting to oppose 
our advance. We took a few prisoners. Our own casualties, 
besides the loss of Bethune— a host in himself— were but four 
killed and thirteen wounded. The day's work reflects the utmost 
credit on the two out-flanking parties, and if it had been possible 
to retain any sort of control of the position we had gained, this 
fight in itself might have been the turning point of the expedition. 
As it was, there was nothing to do but to return with the utmost 
speed to Gyantse. Colonel Brander had not the time even to pull 
down the Tibetans' wall. The tents and the ammunition were 
destroyed, as much damage to the wall as could be done in the 
short time was carried out, and then the force returned to their 
■camping-place of the previous night four miles back in the Plain 
of Milk. 

The altitude to which the southern flanking party attained was 
probably the highest point on the earth's surface at which an 
engagement has ever taken place, and the accounts given by the 
men of the terrible labor of climbing, and of the utter inability, 
at this height of over 18,000 feet, to do more than crawl forward 
listlessly, were not the least interesting part of this extraordinary 

Immediately beyond the wall is a very curious freak of nature. 
The ice-field on the south here comes down to a basin three hun- 
dred yards across, the lower or northern end of which is banked 


up ; and the melting of the ice has produced there a deep and al- 
most clear lake, the waters of which on one side lap up against 
the high glacier itself. The Tibetans, recognizing any natural 
eccentricity as the predestined home of devils, have taken the 
greatest pains, with little pyramids of quartz and fluttering flags, 
to propitiate the evil spirits of this pretty little imitation of the 

On the following morning, the 7th of May, the column began 
the return march, and Captain O'Connor and I set off in good 
time to cover before nightfall the forty-four miles which lay be- 
tween us and Gyantse. 



WHAT exactly we should find when we reached Gyantse 
neither O'Connor nor myself had the least idea. We 
knew that the first attack had been gallantly and satisfactorily 
beaten off ; but we also knew that only half the Tibetan force had 
been employed on the 5th — knew too that the attacking party had 
bungled things in some way or other. We did not know the size 
of the guns which the Tibetans had mounted on the jong, we did 
not know how far the post had been surrounded, and to tell the 
truth we rather trusted to luck and to the shades of night to get 
back into the post at all. Rumor reached us when we got to Ra- 
lung that the Tibetans had determined to hold the gorges through 
which our little party, consisting of Captain Ottley with ten of his 
mounted infantry and our two selves, had to pass. If this were 
found to be the case we could hardly hope to force a way 
through; but we knew that the earlier we pushed on the better 
hope there was of being able to make our way to the open plain 
of Gyantse, which it was impossible for the Tibetans to barricade, 
and in which we might then be able to hold our own against any 
number the Tibetans were likely to send out from the jong to 
cut us off. It was an uneventful ride of fifteen miles from 
Ra-lung to Gobshi, and we covered it in a little over three hours. 
We halted at the village of the Four Gates to collect intelligence 
and to rest. The head men of the village were, not unnaturally, 
in a state of considerable agitation. It is possible that they knew 
nothing whatever about the intentions or the actions of their 



countrymen eighteen miles away; but their nervousness inevita- 
bly suggested that they were lying when they so assured us. So 
we determined not to hurry on, but to take care that the evening 
should have set in before we reached the last and most difficult 
stretch of our journey. 

Leaving Gobshi at half-past four in the afternoon, we moved 
on slowly down the valley of the Nyero chu, watching the slow 
transformation of one of the finest sunsets I have ever seen in 
Tibet. Luckily we found all the bridges along the road intact. 
This was a never-ending source of amazement to us throughout 
the expedition. The Tibetans had never taken the trouble or 
perhaps even had the idea of impeding our progress by so simple 
and effectual a device as the breaking of the road in any way; 
perhaps the most glaring example of this was seen in the way in 
which they eventually left for our use the two great barges at 
the Chak-sam ferry. The rebuilding of a bridge is no small 
matter in Tibet. Of wood on the spot there may be nothing, and 
in many cases where the bridge is made of timber brought from 
a distance the space across is much too great for the substitution 
of stone at a moment's notice. Accustomed as we were, it was a 
relief to find that the stone causeway at Malang, about three 
miles from Gobshi, was standing intact. After that there was 
at least no bridge by the destruction of which they could bar our 
return to Gyantse that night. 

There was not a sign of a Tibetan an)rwhere. The little 
houses and rare gomi>as, nestling here and there in the bare 
valleys to the north and south, showed no sign of life. So we 
made our way unnoticed till we faced the crimson blaze of the 
sunset over the open plain of Gyantse, two miles beyond the big 
■chorten which is the most conspicuous object of the track astrad- 
dle of the road just where a sharp turn in the river half incloses 
a wooded peninsula. We moved on in the dying red light for 
a couple of miles, and then the night of these high uplands crept 


in upon us from all sides. As we passed the house of the eldest 
son of the Maharajah of Sikkim we could still distinguish dimly 
the houses near Ne-nyeng. A mile and a half further on we 
passed the long ruins of a battlemented wall and were just able 
to distinguish the jong in the darkness as we moved over the low 
neck of white quartzite, which here thrusts out into the plain a 
line of little peaks. After that the gloom deepened and soon we 
could hardly see each other. It was a moonless night, and four 
miles from home we literally could not see the ground under our 
horses' hoofs. Now and then a Tibetan wayfarer ran into our 
arms before he knew what or who we were; such travelers we 
questioned and turned behind us. The explanation each gave of 
his night wandering was not wholly uninteresting. One man 
had been into the city for a charm for his sick wife, and was 
returning confident in the efficacy of his closely cuddled treasure. 
Another man was a lama who had been relieved by a friend at a 
monastery all day, and was hurrying back to keep his word and 
release his already over-taxed proxy. A third had an ugly story 
to tell to us— he was the first who gave us any information of 
the horrible fate which had overtaken our unfortunate servants. 
They all agreed that the Tibetans were holding all the houses in 
the plain past which our road necessarily ran ; but more than that 
none of them honestly seemed able to tell us. 

By this time our escort had been reduced to six men. Captain 
Ottley had decided to remain behind at Gobshi to secure a safe 
escort for a belated baggage mule and her leader. So we moved 
on through the night, and for the first time I realized the skill of 
a native of India as a tracker. There was not the slightest indi- 
cation of a road anywhere. There was not a light visible in the 
whole plain, and even the stars were obscured by the light night 
mist that was rising into the cold air from the still warm fields. 
By daylight one would have made half-a-dozen mistakes in trying 
to thread one's way across the three miles of flat country, deeply 


intersected in every direction with wide and often unfordable 
water-courses; but now in the dark the guidance of our Sikhs 
was unfaiHng. One road there was, and one only, after we had 
struck out toward Chang-lo from the beaten path. This took 
a fantastic course over the plowed fields, along the bunds con- 
taining the marshy squares where the first barley was beginning 
to show itself, across the irrigation channels by single-stone 
bridges, swerving now to the right and now to the left, dipping 
down into a dry water-course, rising on the farther side at some 
unindicated point, brushing past little clumps of sallow-thorn, 
skirting an old reservoir, and often verging too close to be com- 
fortable to some occupied house which was invisible at ten yards, 
but was betrayed by the furious barking of the inevitable watch- 
dogs. Along this tortuous path the Sikhs of our escort led us 
in the darkness without the slightest hesitation or mistake. Even . 
at the end, when a single light could be seen from the window of 
the upper story of our besieged post, they made no mistake in 
going straight toward it. A sharp turn to the right along an 
iris-covered embankment saved us a heavy wetting in the deepest 
water-channel of the plain. 

As we approached Chang-lo we suddenly remembered that we 
were in considerably more danger from the high-strung watch- 
fulness of our own sentries than from all the forces that Tibet 
could put into the field. After a while we could barely distin- 
guish against the vague duskiness of the sky the mass of our tall 
poplars. And then two men were sent on to feel our way into 
the post — no easy matter. The garrison were not expecting us, 
and the approach to a defended position is a difficult matter, 
wholly apart from the possibility of the sentry firing before he 
challenges. Barbed wire entanglements, well-planned stakes and 
abattis of felled tree-tops and other impedimenta are no light 
things to penetrate on a dark night; and in the present case we 
had no means of knowing what additional precautions the garri- 


son had, as a matter of course, taken. But all was well ; and at 
about a quarter to ten we found ourselves in the Mission mess 
heartily welcomed as earnest of better things to come. 

The story of the attack on the Mission in the early hours of 
May 5th reads like a romance. As I have said, news had come 
that a body of Tibetans was moving up the valley of the Nyang 
chu to Dongtse, twelve miles away to the north-west. These men, 
1,600 in number, no doubt had their instructions, and it subse- 
quently was shown that those instructions had been given them 
by Dorjieff himself. They had to retake the jong and anni- 
hilate the Mission with its escort. It may be questioned, how- 
ever, whether they would ever have had the determination to 
attempt to carry out the latter part of their orders, if at the last 
moment they had not received what must have seemed to them 
the miraculous news that two-thirds of the defenders of Chang-lo 
had suddenly been called away. Marching in two bands through 
the night of the 4th of May, one-half reoccupied the jong, while 
the other moved as silently as shadows up to the very walls of 
the English post. 

Speculation as to what would have happened if another course 
had been adopted is, perhaps, useless; but there was a fair con- 
sensus of opinion in the post that' if the Tibetans had simply 
thrown away their useless firearms, and had contented them- 
selves with rushing the sentries with drawn swords, the issue of 
that evening might have been painfully different. Actually, the 
men who reached the post were under the walls by about three 
in the morning ; and there in silence they seem to have remained 
for nearly an hour. Not a sentry perceived them ; and if it had 
not been for an alarm given by the last joined recruit of the 
whole force, a boy who had not been thought to have sufficient 
steadiness for the work of a soldier, and was only accepted be- 
cause of the unexpected loss of another man, they could with- 


out difficulty have made their way within striking distance of at 
least two of the four sentries. This boy, looking through the 
darkness, thought he saw the movement of what might have 
been a man about twenty yards from the southern' entrance. It 
will be remembered that our relations with the Tibetans were of 
the most friendly character, and as a matter of fact the nightly 
visits paid by the followers of the Mission to Gyantse, for more 
or less disreputable purposes, must have been well within his 
knowledge; he must, in fact, have known that at that moment 
there were at least eight of the servants of the force in the town ; 
and it says a good deal for his coolness and discipline that, whe- 
ther he were betraying a friend or not, he did not hesitate for a 
moment to rouse the echoes of the night by a hasty shot follow- 
ing upon a single loud challenge. 

The effect of a shot at night upon a defended post is something 
which should be experienced to be fully understood; the whole 
place is galvanized as though it had received an electric shock. 
And every other sentry realized in a second the danger that lay 
in the swarming black ring of men, which now, for the first time, 
were seen clearly enough encircling the whole post. The Tibe- 
tans also were naturally startled into action ; they stood up under 
our very walls and actually used our own loop-holes, thrusting 
the muzzles of their matchlocks into the Mission compound. A 
doctor was the first man to dash into the place from the redoubt 
and warn Colonel Younghusband of his danger. His descrip- 
tion of the compound is curious; he says that a network of 
flashes and humming bullets struck in every direction over the 
inclosure. By some merciful accident not a single man was hit, 
though several of the tents received four or five bullets straight 
through them. Captain Walton in particular had a very narrow 
escape ; he said that the first thing that he realized, after this rude 
awakening, was the muzzles of two or three rusty matchlocks 
poking down through the wall in his direction. One thing prob- 


ably saved the situation; the Tibetans, being naturally shorter 
men than the Sikhs, for whom the loop-holes had originally been 
made, and at no time paying much attention to fire discipline or 
aim, simply held their guns up over their heads and fired through 
the loop-holes in any direction that was convenient. For a few 
seconds, which seemed almost as many minutes, the walls re- 
mained unmanned; then round by the water gate the quick 
reports of the Lee-Metford heralded a blaze of fire from every 
point of the perimeter. 

From the point of view of the Tibetans, the moment chosen 
for the attack was most unfortunate. They secured, indeed, for 
themselves the advantage of an approach in the dark, and, of 
course, had they been successful in effecting their purpose and 
forcing a hand-to-hand struggle inside the walls of the post, the 
coming of dawn might have served them in good stead. As it 
was, however, the growing light caught them, not only still out- 
side our defenses, but a beaten crowd, for whom there was not a 
stick of cover, huddled up under the walls of the post. When 
their inevitable flight had to be attempted some fled at once 
among the trees of the plantation behind Chang-lo; some hid 
themselves idiotically in the walled-up bays of the bridge, where 
they were caught like rats in a trap by the first skirmishing party 
that set out to clear the ground. The luckiest were the most 
cowardly; large numbers, as soon as our firing broke out, had 
made their way back in terror through the shrubs and willows 
immediately overhanging the river bank toward the white house, 
600 yards ahead of us, toward the jong, which was afterward 
captured by us and known as the Gurkhas' post. Here they were 
in safety. On the way they passed a small shrine which Captain 
Walton had been using as his consulting room and hospital for 
Tibetan patients. 

It was from this hospital that the first intimation of anything 
wrong had been received. On the morning of the previous day 


Captain Walton's suspicions had been aroused by the sudden 
exodus of a very large number of his patients. One and all 
seemed anxious to get away, and though this might really mean 
little with a shy and probably mistrustful people like the good 
folk of Gyantse, there was a unanimity about the whole matter 
which caused him to make some disappointed comment, and then 
it appeared that one of his patients had been told of the intention 
of the Tibetans to make a night attack upon the Mission. Such 
rumors had, of course, been common ever since our occupation 
of the place, and had been proved time after time to be the merest 
canards. Captain Walton paid very little attention to it, but he 
was sufficiently aware of a change in the attitude of his patients 
— such of them as remained for treatment— to make him report 
the matter to Colonel Younghusband that evening, without, how- 
ever, expressing any belief or, indeed, much interest in the mat- 
ter. By this time his hospital was empty of all its inmates 
except, I believe, one or two bedridden men who could find no 
one to come and help them away. 

I have said that the luckiest were the most cowardly, but for 
the main body of the attacking force there was no help. When 
their attack failed and flight was necessary they were obliged to 
make the best of their way back across the flat plain to the jong 
and Gyantse. The defenders' post numbered in all about 170 
men, but this number was to a large extent weakened by the fact 
that Colonel Brander had naturally taken with him the strongest 
men of the force, and those who remained behind were certainly, 
to the extent of forty per cent., either weakened by dysentery or 
actually in hospital blankets. But, well or ill, every man reached 
for his rifle and came out to his place. The members of the Mis- 
sion — Colonel Younghusband, Captain Ryder, Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel Waddell, and, it should not be forgotten, Mr. Mitter, the con- 
fidential clerk of the Mission — immediately manned the upper 
works, and a certain number of the followers displayed consider- 


able martial energy in positions of more or less personal danger. 
About a dozen of the mounted infantry had been left by Colonel 
Brander, and these men saddled their ponies with feverish haste. 
Bullets were still singing over the post, but there was no doubt 
that the Tibetans had been successfully beaten off, and the lesson 
to be taught them was one which mounted men could best convey. 
The real flight of the Tibetans did not begin till forty minutes 
after the first alarm, and though it would be inaccurate to say 
that the issue was really in doubt after the first five or ten, it 
will be seen that the engagement was for a time hotly contested, 
and it is doubtful whether the Tibetans lost many men till they 
broke and ran. After that it was simply a case of shooting down 
the flying figiu-es in the gray morning twilight. It is one of the 
peculiarities of Tibet that as soon as a leafless bush can be distin- 
guished twenty yards away in the dawn you can almost as clearly 
see a willow tree on a slope a mile and a half distant. The tiny 
body of irregular infantry, made all the more irregular by the 
volunteers who aided in the pursuit, were busily and systemati- 
cally clearing the plantation of the enemy, and preparing to carry 
a counter attack home to the very foot of the rock from which 
the first jingal balls were now being fired toward Chang-lo. 

The Tibetans left behind them but few under the actual walls 
of the post, but 180 dead were found within a radius of one 
thousand yards, and, under the circumstances, at least three 
times that number must have been wounded. On our own side — 
besides our wretched servants and the unhappy Nepali shepherd 
who was caught outside the defenses watching his flock through 
the night, and fell a shocking victim to the Tibetans' savage lust 
for blood — there were but two casualties all this time. This is 
but another example of the immunity which, time after time, was 
enjoyed by our men against all probability and, indeed, expe- 

The work of the mounted infantry was finished about six 


o'clock in the full light of the quick Asiatic dawn. The Tibetans 
flying helplessly over the flat irrigated fields had been scattered 
to the winds. The luckier ones on horseback made good their 
escape almost to a man. The others either ran for their lives 
with the characteristic heavy-shouldered tramp of their race, or 
hid in vain desperation among the irrigation channels of the 
fields. One or two fled to the river bank and there immersed 
themselves, leaving their mouths and noses only above the thick, 
brown flood, under the friendly shelter of an overhanging shrub. 
One or two by the banks, with animal-like cunning, feigned 
death, and when detected pretended to be severely wounded. 

An hour and a half after this heavy and responsible work two 
Sikhs threw the post-bags of the dak across their saddles and 
moved out to take the mails as usual to Sau-gang. Later in the 
day another man cantered off on the road to the Karo la. The 
lesson of the morning was emphasized by a spasmodic bombard- 
ment all the day, and a Sepoy was killed while standing almost 
immediately behind a high adobe wall. Captain Ryder instantly 
assumed the direction of the additional defenses which had to be 
made, and the next two days produced an extraordinary altera- 
tion in the aspect of Chang-lo. Great traverses of timber logs, in- 
terspersed with granite boulders, rose up like magic everywhere. 
The Masbi Sikh is by nature and intention a lazy man ; yet it is 
possible that no Sikh in the history of his race ever worked with 
such desperation as the hundred laborers who, in very truth, had 
to work like the famous artisans under the direction of Nehe- 
miah. There was no time to lose, for the only information we 
could certainly get from the prisoners was that more men and 
larger guns were even at that moment being hurried up against 
us from Lhasa. 

Such was the state of affairs when O'Connor and I rode in 
on the evening of the 7th. The column from the Karo la could 
not arrive until the afternoon of the 9th ; an attack, meanwhile,. 


was threatened for that same night. But the Tibetans had had 
too heavy a lesson, and nothing, therefore, was done before the 
arrival of the main body of the defenders had put an end to all 
hope of carrying the post by storm. 

As soon as the place was put in a proper condition of defense 
we had leisure to consider the extraordinary change in the politi- 
cal situation which had been caused by the attack of the Tibe- 
tans. Of course, in one way it simplified the position enormously ; 
there could no longer be any pretense on the part of the Tibetans 
that they were a peace-loving and long-suffering race ; the issues 
were cleared. It was obvious that no negotiations had ever been 
intended. We were able at last to estimate the authority of the 
Chinese suzerains and the influence of the Amban himself — nei- 
ther existed. Unless we were willing to help ourselves, it was 
in a moment clear that the Chinese were neither willing nor able 
to help us. I do not suppose that any one in his senses has ever 
seriously criticized the right of the Tibetans to massacre the 


Mission if they could, and if they were ready to accept the con- 
sequences of success. It is true that the circumstances of this 
attack during a period of practical armistice, while we were 
awaiting, if not perhaps expecting, the advent of the Amban, 
gave some reasonable ground of complaint ; but as we were our- 
selves tarred with the same brush, reproach was a boomerang-like 
weapon for us to employ. The situation, as I have said, was 
undoubtedly cleared, but it may well be doubted whether that was 
any particular gratification to the Cabinet at home. That it was 
not is perhaps clear from the fact that Lord Lansdowne seems 
immediately to have gone out of his way to make a gratuitous 
re-statement of the pledges which the Government had given six 
months before to Russia. Herein, perhaps, there is some just 
reason to demur to the policy of Whitehall. It is an open secret 
that our policy in Egypt just then demanded that we should be 
on good terms with Russia, but even so, it seemed common sense 


to lay every conceivable stress upon an active hostility which was 
at once recognized as due to the presence of a Russian subject 
in Lhasa. In any case, whatever the responsibility of an unau- 
thorized representative of the great northern neighbor of Tibet, 
it was perfectly clear that the attack on the Mission had practi- 
cally justified to the full the presumptions of active hostility 
which had seemed to us to necessitate the accompaniment of the 
Mission by a strong escort. The chief point, therefore, which 
had excited the mistrust of continental critics Was clearly demon- 
strated as a wise and, indeed, a very necessary precaution on our 

More than this, the behavior of the Tibetans had justified at 
a stroke our taking action in the matter at all. It was clear from 
the kindly reception which the Mission received on its coming 
to Gyantse from every one except the local representatives of the 
close Lamaic corporation that governs the country, and from the 
subsequent attack promoted by that corporation, that our forecast 
was correct, not only in assuming that the Lamaic hierarchy in 
no way represented the feeling of the bulk of the population, but 
also that it was from the priestly autocrats of Tibet alone that 
danger to British interests was to be feared. It was no part of 
the business of the British Government to play the role of Perseus 
rescuing Andromeda from a monster; but somewhat to our sur- 
prise we found that the policy of the Viceroy, begun for very 
different and somewhat prosaic reasons, was actually compelling 
us into a position which was not very different. We had begun, 
without questioning the form of government which obtained in 
Tibet, by working for the conclusion of some agreement with a 
properly accredited representative of the country. We had ac- 
cepted the peculiarities, not to say the brutalities, -which mark this 
extreme form of religious tyranny, not in ignorance, but as 
being no affair of ours. With the Grand Lama as the head of 
the country we had certain business to transact; and if he had 


been willing to meet us at Kamba-jong, our difficulties would 
have been over. We should never have moved a mile farther 
into the Forbidden Country, and, perhaps, the hold of the lamas 
over the country might have been even stronger than before, inas- 
much as our diplomatic relations with Lhasa would have formed 
an additional proof of the ability of the Tibetans to manage their 
own foreign affairs, and of the uselessness of continuing the farce 

of Chinese sovereignty. This the Grand Lama failed to see, and 
the upshot of our interference has been that the reign of supersti- 
tious tyranny has received a severe blow, not only by the prestige 
we have gained by our successful advance to Lhasa, but by the 
deposition of the Grand Lama, and by the strength which has 
thereby been temporarily given to the tottering structure of Chi- 
nese sovereignty. 

These considerations might perhaps have made the home au- 
thorities hesitate before wantonly reiterating to the Russians 
assurances which were perfectly honest but in their origin appli- 
cable only to an entirely different and much less complicated 
state of affairs. The attack on the Mission was the throwing 
down of the glove. It was a deliberate challenge on the part of 
an autocrat who saw that in the slowly increasing friendliness 
between the foreigner and the " miser " of the land there lurked 
perhaps the seeds of trouble for himself in the future. We know 
from an excellent source that the action of the English in paying 
full prices, and even more than full prices, for the food-stuffs 
they requisitioned in the Chumbi and Nyang chu Valleys was an 
unexpected shock to the authorities in Lhasa ; they complained of 
it. And knowing, as we now do, whose influence lay at the bot- 
tom of this night attack upon the Mission, we can see not only 
a shrewd and successful scheme whereby Dorjieff himself might 
escape from the consequences of his own bad advice, but a not 

unnatural determination at all hazards to put an end to the grow- 
ing familiarity between the invaders and the invaded. 


About this time in Lhasa there was a wave of mistrust of the 
Chinese. Actual power the Chinese had none, and the very- 
advice of the Amban was believed to be tainted. Dorjieff had 
assured the government of Tibet that the English had brought 
into subjection the Middle Kingdom, and were using to the full 
the authority of the Chinese representatives abroad when and as 
it suited their purpose. The earnest and repeated advice there- 
fore to them was merely a confirmation of the serious danger they 
were in. They left no stone unturned to spur their people on to 
harry those whom they called the English infidels of Hindustan. 
The men of Kams at first refused to leave their province to op- 
pose our advance; they argued that they could not leave their 
own district unprotected, and, as the Dalai Lama's temporal 
authority over Kams is somewhat nebulous, he very wisely ad- 
jured them to assist him on the spiritual ground that the ultimate 
intention of the Mission was to wreck Buddhism. 

The state of affairs in Lhasa at this time was desperate. The 
Emperor of China had ordered the Tibetans to negotiate with 
the Maharajah of Nepal and the Tongsa Penlop, the temporal 
ruler of Bhutan ; both had urged upon the Dalai Lama an imme- 
diate compliance with the British demands. No help was forth- 
coming from Russia, and, as a final blow, the good people of 
Nakchu-ka said with some firmness that the English had already 
killed many professional soldiers of the Tibetans, and how then 
could peaceable cattle-drivers like themselves fight against them ? 
Rather than come out they would go on pilgrimage. In these 
depressing circumstances, the Dalai Lama appears to have acted 
somewhat hurriedly, and, so far as can be gleaned, the Amban 
seems to have had a bad quarter of an hour with him. At any 
rate, upon his return through the green parks of Lhasa, which 
separate the Potala from the Residency, his cogitations took a 
definite shape, and the Viceroy of Tibet sent an urgent request 
to the Maharajah of Nepal that a thousand Gurkhas should be 
sent at once for his protection. 


On the side of the Grand Lama also military preparations were 
pressed on. The construction of a fort at Chu-sul, forty miles 
from Lhasa, at the junction of the Kyi chu and the Tsang-po, was 
ordered. A new water-wheel, presumably for the purpose of 
turning a lathe, was set up in the arsenal, and, in utter need, the 
magic powers of the Sa-kya monastery, the awful representative 
of an old regime of divine tyrants, were called in, and the incan- 
tations and charms of the contemned Red Cap faith rose up for 
the first time from under the golden roofs of the Potala, Finally, 
two days after our arrival in Gyantse, the Tibetans had deter- 
mined to rush our post by night and reoccupy the jong. This had 
been attempted with partial success. 

It will be seen that there was no real hope of conducting nego- 
tiations in Gyantse even before the morning of the 5th of May. 
After that eventful moment, with the Tibetans all round us and 
the guns of the jong playing at their will upon the Commissioner's 
residence, negotiation was naturally farther off than ever. The 
determination of the Government to adhere to its policy of con- 
cession to Russian susceptibilities now crippled Colonel Young- 
husband's right hand. The very Sikhs of the garrison came to 
hear of it, and said gloomily that unless this business were car- 
ried through as it should be and in Lhasa, they would never 
be able to hold up their heads again among their own folk at 
home. So long, however, as this bombardment lasted, so long 
as the Tibetans retained possession of the jong, negotiation on any 
basis whatever was in abeyance — except for Colonel Younghus- 
band, whose weary pen again and again restated the position for 
the benefit of the Cabinet, scarcely one of whose members, with 
the exception of Lord Lansdowne, had even a bowing acquain- 
tance with the East. 

There is no doubt about it ; in the East you must do as the East 
does, if you hope to achieve anything permanently good or per- 
manently great in it. Had the two things been necessarily incom- 
patible, the jettison of Lord Curzon's policy in order that Lord 


Cromer's goods should be safely brought to port might well have 
been accepted by every one, and certainly would have been by 
every member of the Mission in Tibet. But this was not put 
forward as inevitable, and it seemed to us unfortunate that the 
Government should not have realized that the condition of affairs 
had changed. 

Meanwhile, the daily work of defense had to be done, and bet- 
ter provision had to be made for the mules whose old lines lay 
under the guns of the jong with scarcely a twig to protect them. 
They were given a more secure position in rear of the buildings. 
The abattis and horn-works were strengthened, the Gurkhas' gate 
was re-staked, wire entanglements surrounded the entire post, 
traverses rose up in every unprotected spot, the trees in the plan- 
tation to the rear were cleared away for two hundred yards, and 
the sentries were doubled. Captain Ryder's defenses of Chang-lo 
were subsequently slightly extended by Captain Sheppard, but 
the latter, on his arrival, found the place sufficiently secure to en- 
able him to devote all his energies to the construction of bridges 
and covered ways between the main position and the outposts at 
the white house and Pala village, which had then been secured. 

From day to day it became increasingly uncertain whether the 
little mail-bag, which was taken out every morning to be met at 
Sau-gang by the dak runners from Kang-ma, would ever reach 
its destination. Why the Tibetans did not effectually prevent this 
mail remains a mystery to this day. The bag was usually guarded 
by four mounted men only, and it had a long road to cover, by 
villages, from any of which the messengers might with impunity 
have been shot down ; through defiles in which any ravine might 
well conceal a dozen determined men; or across the open plain, 
where its distant progress could be watched by a sharp-sighted 
man six miles away. Once or twice a faint-hearted attempt was 
actually made. On one occasion. May 20th, it was so far success- 
ful that the mounted infantry were obliged to make the best of 


their way into Chang-lo, leaving behind them one mail-bag and 
one of their number dead.* 

The coming of the dak was the one incident that broke the 
monotony of our daily life. The telegraph wire was with us al- 
most from the beginning, and only once was there the slightest 
attempt to interfere with it on the part of the enemy. In this 
connection an incident may be noticed which reflects no small 
credit upon Mr. Truninger. He, so the story was told to me, 
with his second in command, was engaged in setting up posts and 
laying the wires along one portion of the road to the undisguised 
interest and curiosity of one or two innocent-looking lamas. 
These men persistently asked what was the use of the wire. It 
will be seen that this was, under the circumstances, an inquiry the 
true answer to which might prove disastrous to our communica- 
tions. We had not the men to defend even ten miles of this long 
line, and without the slightest question the wire would have been 
cut in twenty places a day if the Tibetans had had the least idea 
of the enormous value it was to us. But the answer came simply 
and earnestly. " We .English," said Truninger, " are in a 
strange land, a land of which no foreigner has ever known any- 
thing ; our maps are no good, and every day we go forward we are 
like children lost in a great wood. Therefore we lay this wire 
behind us in order that when we have done our business with 
your Dalai Lama we may find the road by which we came and, 
as quickly as possible, get hence to England." Needless to say, 
nothing could more effectually have secured the wire from dam- 
age, as the single ambition of the Tibetans from the first was to 
be rid of us as quickly as possible. 

The result of this forbearance on the part of the enemy was 

that we often received the news in the first editions of the evening 

^ This dead man was the only one left in the hands of the Tibetans through- 
out the expedition. His head was afterward found to have been hacked off and 
sent to Lhasa to substantiate a claim to the grant of land offered by the Dalai 
Lama in return for every head of a member of the expedition. 


papers in London before we sat down to dinner the same evening. 
In point of actual time we received such news within three hours 
of its publication, while the news which we sent westward at 
times reached London long before the nominal hour at which it 
had been despatched from Gyantse. Ordinarily, however, mes- 
sages took about three hours apparent time, that is to say, eight 
or nine hours actual time, in reaching their destination in London. 
Diaries of sieges are dull. There was always plenty to do, but 
it lacked distinction, although under other circumstances much 
of it would have been exciting enough. One day, or rather one 
night, there were water channels, supplying the town, to be cut 
or dammed; there was a patrol to be sent out, with the general 
intention of rendering night traveling unhealthy for the Tibetans ; 
later on, there was a two-hundred-yard length of covered way to 
be made in the exposed plain. Another day some of the houses 
in the plain behind us, which the Tibetans were holding, had to be 
cleared of their occupants. Another time there was a bridge to 
be built beyond the end of the plantation, just within the furthest 
range of the jingals from the rock. These jingals generally gave 
the first intimation that the dak was arriving. Besides their regu- 
lar morning bombardment, and one equally inevitable about half- 
past four, they reserved aim and ammunition for the dak riders, 
whom from their high eyrie they could easily see as they crossed 
the bridge and made their way through the trees of the plantation 
to the southern entrance of the post.^ All day long there was 
something to be done; I spent the late afternoons in acquiring a 
smattering of Tibetan. The wind used to spring up daily about 
three o'clock, whirling a shower of catkins from the willows be- 
side the wall of the Mission garden, and driving a penetrating 
storm of grit through the post. Out across the plain, the long 
trails of smoke from the burning houses were dissipated into the 

* I do not think that a single man was ever hit in this way, but the amount 
of lead the Tibetans thus used was extraordinary. 


low-lying blue haze of the distant hills, and added another glory 
to the sunset scene. 

On the 19th of May it was decided to clear what was known af- 
terward as the Gurkha post. This was a white house 600 yards 
away from Chang-lo straight in the direction of the jong. The 
Tibetans had occupied it with sixty men, and it was imperative 
that they should at once be dislodged. Before dawn the storm- 
ing-party, under Lieutenant Gurdon, moved out, followed by the 
Gurkhas of the garrison. The main doors of the house were 
blown in, and the place carried by assault in a quarter of an hour ; 
our casualties were insignificant, and before the sun was well up 
the house was occupied by a single company of the attacking 
force, which remained in this exposed position during the re- 
mainder of our stay at Gyantse. Against this house the chief 
fury of the Tibetans was thenceforward directed; night after 
night it was surrounded and had to beat off the Tibetan forces. 
Day after day it was pounded by the guns on the jong, which here 
seemed to rise almost perpendicularly above the house. A wall 
was built up by the Tibetans from the westward corner of the 
jong toward the river, and from two embrasures in it a continual 
bombardment was kept up upon the defenders of the post. On 
the following day occurred the attack upon the mail escort, to 
which I have already referred. On this occasion Captain Ottley, 
who went out with the mounted infantry to the rescue of the 
dak runners, drove the Tibetans headlong from two farms, 
hut found them so strongly ensconced about four miles further 
on that he was himself obliged to retire, impeded by the necessity 
of escorting two wounded and five unmounted men. 

On the 2 1st a small force rnoved out under Colonel Brander to 
dear the plain to the south ; they captured and burned three farms 
held by the enemy, and returned to camp on receiving a report 
that the enemy were moving out from Gyantse to attack Chang-lo. 
Colonel Brander did not allow the grass to grow under his feet, 


and five days later he swept the Tibetans from Pala village, the 
most important position that they held, except the jong itself. 

The taking of Pala was one of the most creditable bits of work 
done by the garrison. In utter darkness, before the dawn. Colo- 
nel Brander sent out a small column, composed of three hundred 
rifles, four g^ns, and a Maxim. Their objective was this hamlet, 
where the Tibetans had been strengthening a position and mount- 
ing guns for the previous two or three days. This danger at all 
costs had to be prevented. Pala enfiladed nearly the whole of our 
defenses, and was barely 1,200 yards away to the north-east. The 
relative positions of Chang-lo, Pala, and the jong were, roughly 
speaking, those of the points of an equilateral triangle; the road 
from Gyantse to Lhasa runs through Pala ; and the occupation of 
this post gave us practical command of all direct communications 
with the capital. For more reasons than one the place had to be 
taken, and Colonel Brander's scheme was in its conception admir- 
able. The guns were posted on an eminence, a quarter of a mile 
away to the north-east, which completely dominated the village. 
After skirting round the village to the south-east his plan was to 
develop an attack in the first place upon the house which was 
nearest to the jong. For this purpose Captain Sheppard and Cap- 
tain O'Connor were deputed, with half-a-dozen men, to open the 
assault by blowing in the wall of the next house, which wholly 
commanded it. At the same time Lieutenant Garstin, with Lieu- 
tenant Walker, R.E., was sent a few yards further to breach the 
house itself. Major Peterson, with two companies of the 32d » 
Pioneers, was to follow up the explosions with an instant rush. 
This was the plan ; what actually happened was entirely different. 

The column moved slowly through the darkness, until its lead- 
ing ranks were within fifty yards of the high road to Lhasa. At 
that moment a small party of three unsuspecting Tibetans tramped 
slowly along it, and though Colonel Brander believed that not one 
of his men was actually seen, it is possible that, in some way. 


these men were able to give the alarm to the defenders of the post. 
Certainly there seems to be no reason to charge any member of 
the attacking column with carelessness, or even an accident. But 
the Tibetans were on the alert, and, as soon as the first figures 
were visible in the obscurity, a hot fire was poured upon them 
from the roofs of all the houses in the village. The two storm- 
ing-parties had by this time reached a low wall, thirty yards from 
the house to be attacked, and there was nothing else to be done but 
to make a dash for it. Captain Sheppard, followed by Captain 
O'Connor, vaulted over the wall, and ran forward into the nar- 
row lane between the two houses. From a doorway in the fore- 
most house, opening into this passage, three Tibetans rushed out 
with matchlocks and swords. Captain Sheppard drew his re- 
volver and shot two of them, set the cake of gun-cotton under 
the wall, and lit the fuse. He then ran back, preceded by the 
third Tibetan, who, however, escaped into the door again. At the 
same time, beside the smaller house, Garstin and Walker were 
setting up their explosive, and everything seemed to promise im- 
mediate success on the lines that Colonel Brander had mapped out. 
Garstin's fuse, however, refused to act, and only Sheppard's ef- 
fected its purpose. An earth-shaking roar was followed by blind- 
ing dust, through which it was impossible to see the full extent 
of the damage done. But all firing ceased for the moment, and in 
one house at least a breach, big enough for the entrance of the 
supporting companies, had been made. No one came. 

It appeared afterward that Major Peterson's men had found 
it impossible to advance in the face of the fire from the houses, 
and instead of moving westward to the place from which they 
could carry out the work begun by the storming-parties, they took 
up a sheltered position to the east in a garden, where they re- 
mained until the well-directed fire of " Bubble " and " Squeak " 
enabled them to advance. The little storming-party was indeed 
also supported by a company of the same regiment on its flank. 


which had occupied a position in the sunken road a hundred yards 
from the house, and did not understand the dangers in which the 
two small bodies of men under Captain Sheppard were in a mo- 
ment placed. These men were thus entirely cut off, and both 
houses were full of Tibetans. 

O'Connor acted with great presence of mind. He had his own 
cake of gun-cotton intact, and, by the merest chance, the door 
through which the surviving Tibetan had escaped back into the 
house was left unfastened. Attended by one Sikh only, O'Connor 
dashed through into the unoccupied house. Luckily every man 
in it was on the roof ; for that very reason he considered it neces- 
sary to go up on to the first floor, in order more effectively to ex- 
plode the charge. Followed by his companion, he dashed up the 
slippery iron-sheathed ladder, and set his cake in the corner where 
it would do most damage. The men on the roof had seen him, 
and in a rain of badly aimed bullets he lighted the fuse and, to 
use his own phrase, " ran like a rabbit." His Sikh companion in 
his excitement caught his rifle, to which the bayonet was attached, 
between a wooden pillar and the hand-rail of the stairs, thus 
completely barring the descent. Fuses used by storming-parties 
are, naturally, short, and the stage directions for the descent of 
O'Connor and his man would have : " exeunt confusedly." Pick- 
ing themselves up at the bottom they made for the door, which, 
however, they did not reach before the explosion took place. 
O'Connor never has given a very lucid description of the moment, 
but the fact that in his inside pocket a thick cut-glass flask was 
smashed to pieces by the shock shows that his escape was a nar- 
row one indeed. Sheppard outside saw with horror half of one 
of the walls of the house subside in yellow dust before a sign of 
O'Connor was visible at the doorway. 

Soon after this a second attempt of Garstin's was more success- 
ful, but in the absence of any support, the position of the little 
storming-parties was dangerous indeed. Soon afterward, as we 


were to hear with the deepest regret, Garstin was killed outright, 
and O'Connor was seriously wounded by a ball through the 
shoulder, before safe quarters could be taken up. In fact, these 
exposed sections suffered all the more serious casualties of the 
day, and in number no less than eight out of a total of eleven. 

As soon as it was light enough, the guns on the little hill opened 
fire upon the still strongly held houses to the east of the village, 
and Major Peterson showed great gallantry in bringing up his 
Pioneers through the gardens and houses, taking each by storm in 
turn. The fighting was severe, for with the rising of the sun the 
Tibetans found themselves caught without the chance of escape. 
The jong lay 1,200 yards away, but to reach it fugitives were 
obliged to cross an entirely coverless plain. Their fellows in the 
town could be of little assistance to them. One plucky attempt on 
the part of a score of mounted men was, indeed, made, but the 
enterprise was hopeless; riding straight into the zone swept by 
the Maxims, hardly three of them escaped back. Nor did the 
bombardment, which the jong opened at the first streak of light, 
help the defenders of the village. With an impartial hand the 
gunners showered their balls upon friend and foe alike, and to 
this cannonade some at least of the Tibetan casualties among the 
crowded houses of Pala must have been due. A stout defense 
against overwhelming odds was made for a short time; but as 
the morning wore on, the Tibetans abandoned their loop-holes 
and their windows, and fled to their labyrinth of underground 
cellars, where they crouched in the darkness, and with their 
matchlocks ready, formed a far more formidable antagonist than 
in the open air. The place was practically cleared by one o'clock, 
though for two or three days afterward a considerable number 
of undiscovered Tibetans crept quietly away under cover of the 
darkness of the night. 

In the center of the village was a large and comfortable house, 
owned by the Pala family, one of the most aristocratic stocks 


in Tibet. Besides a well-built three-storied house, there was 
also the usual little summer-house beneath the trees of the 
garden. The excellent workmanship of the few things, such as 
tea-pots and brass images, which were found in the house gave 
proof of the luxury of its late occupants, A more significant 
find, however, was the discovery of two heavy jingals in the 
cellars. It is a little difficult to account for their presence. 
They had certainly not been brought there recently, and it is 
curious that the Tibetans in bringing guns even from Lhasa 
itself, for the purpose of bombarding our post, should have over- 
looked within a mile of Gyantse two pieces throwing a ball as 
heavy as those which they had laboriously transported from a 
distance. The larger of the two guns weighed over four hun- 
dred pounds, the diameter of its bore was three inches, and the 
outside was curiously fluted. It was made of gun-metal, and 
altogether seemed serviceable enough for the limited ballistic 
requirements of Tibetans. 

The village was occupied by a detachment of the Pioneers, 
whose exploits were recognized in their Colonel's orders on the 
following day. It is perhaps a pity that the work of the storm- 
ing-parties did not receive acknowledgment, though the sur- 
vivors of them, wounded or not, were the last people to notice 
the omission. It was a good piece of work, and Colonel Brander 
is to be congratulated. The delay of even twenty-four hours 
in capturing this village might have made a serious difference 
to the defense of Chang-lo, and when the Tibetans had once 
been driven out the fullest use was made by us of this second 
point d'appui. 

The situation created by the capture of Pala was briefly this : 
the English force was placed in a strong position with regard to. 
the jong; we were enabled to cut the communications of the 
Tibetans eastward, and, by holding the bridge at Chang-lo itself, 
communication with the south was only possible after the river 


had risen by going five miles down stream to the bridge at 
Tse-chen. We had for some time been able to keep the Tibetans 
under cover all the day; a few sharp-shooters and Lieutenant 
Hadow, with an itching thumb upon the trigger-lever of his 
Maxim, had long made it impossible for any Tibetan to show 
himself by daylight on any part of the jong, or in so much 
of the town as was visible from the roof of the Commissioner's 
house. But we had hitherto of course been unable to stop steady 
communication with Lhasa by night. Now, however, we were 
astride the road, and an occasional patrol was all that was neces- 
sary to prevent the Tibetans holding any communication with 
their capital, except by the circuitous and difficult track, which 
could only be followed by retreating thirty miles down the valley 
of the Nyang chu. 

On our side we were still surrounded, and it was a daily 
uncertainty every morning whether our thin line of communi- 
cations would have continued to exist through the night. We 
were therefore in a curious situation, both sides besieging the 
other; and the word investment (which was generally used to 
describe our position) is not perhaps strictly accurate. The hon- 
ors were pretty evenly divided ; neither the Tibetans nor we were 
able to storm the others' defenses; a mutual fusillade compelled 
each side to protect its occupants by an elaborate system of trav- 
erses ; and straying beyond the narrow limits of the fortifications 
was, on either side, severely discouraged by the other. The Tib- 
etans had, however, two considerable advantages. They were 
fighting in their own country, and in numbers they probably ex- 
ceeded us by ten to one. For them, every village or house that 
dotted the wide plain round us was a refuge, and might also be- 
come a post from which to operate against us. The loss of a few 
men now and then mattered little to them; they had the whole 
of Tibet from which to make good their casualties, and from 
almost the same wide recruiting ground reinforcements crept 


in nightly in small companies. Sometimes in the past they had 
ventured in during the daylight, bent double, running from 
cover to cover like hares, now waiting for a quarter of an hour 
behind a friendly overhanging bank, now making quick time 
to the shelter of a white-washed chorten, or a ruined wall. But 
our success at Pala made a great difference to the relative po- 
sitions of ourselves and the Tibetans. 



AT Gyantse, from dawn till sunset, there was generally a 
AIL breeze. Except for an hour or two in the white heat of 
mid-day the lightly strung leaves of the branching Lombardy 
poplars in the compound were every moment shifting edge-ways 
to the faint indraft from the plain, and, overhead, the long strings 
of prayer-flags, orange and faded gray and gauzy chrome, rocked 
gently in the stirring air. Silent the post never was by day, 
not even in the motionless glare of noontide when the wind was 
stifled and the heat sweated out from the wide empty plains, 
a teeming mirage veil. These were the hours which the shrill 
whistle of the kite or the monotone of the hoopoe filled — hours 
when the petty restlessness of a camp, even in the hour of siesta, 
assumed ear-compelling importance. Never during the day 
could one hear the faint rush and race of the Nyang chu over 
its pebbles a hundred yards away. At night there was no other 

Gyantse under the stars will remain an impressive memory 
for every one in the little post at Chang-lo. Perhaps the picture 
of the nights there is worth giving so far as one can. Close 
behind the fortified parapet of the Commissioner's house the 
trees stood up with their sable branches sharply etched against 
the powdered spaces of the night sky. One had to look upward 
at them to be sure that it was not, indeed, their rustling, but the 
voice of the river that hushed the silence and was itself muted 
by the distant bark of a dog or the lifted heel-chain of a rest- 



less mule in the lines below. Far behind, straightly ascending 
like a column of phosphorescent smoke, the Milky Way ribbed 
the sky to the south-southwest. Beneath it, the heavy sloping 
buttress of the redoubt stood out boldly, the outer angle cutting 
sharply across the line of the river as it flowed westward in its 
shadowy channel, only a little brighter than the sky, till a curve 
carried it behind the thin fringe of sallows, where all day the 
rosefinches chattered in a crowd. 

Looking downward over the sand-bags, the thick tangle of 
the nearest abattis is barely seen, and beyond it the plain is only 
certainly broken by an acre patch of iris, or by the darkness 
under a clump of trees. These, uncertain in the gloom below, 
are blackly silhouetted above, over the outline of the distant hills 
which are clear against the sky of the horizon round; for in 
these pure altitudes the stars invisibly assert themselves, and 
interstellar space has a half-latent illumination of its own, against 
which the peaks and saddles of these Himalayan spurs are better 
defined than on a moonlight night. At the end of the parapet 
is a sheeted Maxim, and beside its muzzle the motionless sentry 
looks out into the night toward the jong. All day long the 
high rock and its forts, clean cut in the bright air, have towered 
up against the ash and ocher of the distant mountains, scored 
and scarred with sharp water channels, cut fan-wise by a thou- 
sand of the brief rains of these high uplands. Six hours ago 
every stone of it could be counted ; now it had vanished and the 
blank levels run to the foot of the distant ranges. Other fa- 
miliar things but a few yards away — a worn foot-path, a clay 
drinking-trough, or a half up-rooted tree-stump — have vanished 
with the jong. Pala village is faintly betrayed in the distance 
by its whitened walls, but even of that there is no certainty. 
Six hundred yards to the front the position of the Gurkha Post 
is only distinguished by the trees which cut the sky line over it. 

As one peers out into the warm night, a long monotone is 


faintly droned from the darkness ahead. It is one of the huge 
■conch shells in the jong and it may only mean a call to prayer 
—the " hours " of Lamaism are unending— but as the moaning 
note persists softly and steadily, a vivid speck of flame stabs 
the darkness across the river. A second later the report of 
the gun accompanies a prolonged " the-e-es " overhead. There 
is another and another, and the balls chase each other through 
the trees. The Tibetans are out for the night. A heavy fire 
breaks out for two or three hundred yards along the further 
hank, the neater crack of the European rifles in their possession 
blending with the heavy explosion of matchlocks an inch in bore, 
and the malicious swish of the conical bullets with the drone of 
leaden lumps. 

The sentry moves inward shadow-like and rouses an oflicer 
sleeping in a corner of the parapet. It is only a word or two, 
** Water-gate, sir." As the fire increases, the garrison, a ghostly 
company of half-seen men, move silently and mechanically to 
their posts from their beds behind the traverses. After a little, 
• the officer of the watch comes round and one hears a few whis- 
pered words in the compound below. But this has happened 
so often, night after night, that there is not much to do; the 
defenses are manned without question needed or answer given. 
A minute or two later there is hardly a change to be noted in the. 
quietness of the post, except for the wail of the bullets over- 
head, and the occasional inevitable cough of the awakened Se- 
poys. But the post is ready from end to end, and the oflftcer 
at his Maxim traverses her snub muzzle once or twice to see 
that she runs easily. 

The conch drones again from the hidden jong. Nothing is 
easier now than to people the darkness with creeping figures. 
One seems to have seen them — one always seems too late actually 
to see them — here and there in the obscurity, but the small force 
betraying its front by the flashes across the river is the only 


certain thing. These men keep up a persistent but useless fire, 
though not a shot is returned. The spots of flame jerk out of 
the night along a widening front, but there is no sign of an 
advance, and, failing to draw any response from us, the aimless 
fusillade slackens after a time. From the enemy's position, 
Chang-lo must seem a sleeping, almost a deserted, post. But the 
Tibetans have been taught a severe lesson time after time, and 
they will not easily come on. Two or three, indeed, of their 
hardiest come right up to the other side of the bridge and, at 
a range of sixty yards, fire straight into the mud walls of the 
water-gate. There is a rifle muzzle out of every loophole that 
commands the bridge, of which the seven sagging bays may 
just be seen against the dim stream from a corner of the re- 
doubt. But not a sound of life is betrayed. The Tibetan 
" braves " fire half-a-dozen shots along the roadway and then go 
back to urge on their reluctant followers. There is a momentary 
increase in the firing, but the sparks of flame have not moved up 
a yard, and the faint sound dies down again into silence. It is 
difficult to convince oneself that anything has happened, so com- 
pletely has the night swallowed up everything except the chuckle 
of the river over its stones. 

After a lull of twenty minutes it is clear that no attack is 
^o be brought, at least against the central post. There was per- 
haps no real intention on the part of the Tibetans to follow 
up their volleys ;• we are much too strong and they know it ; their 
real object is disclosed as we watch. Round the detached Gur- 
kha posts the darkness is suddenly pierced by a hundred tongues 
of flame, and upon the rattle of the muskets, a babel of excited 
shouting follows. The enemy have surrounded the house. 
Again and again the Tibetan war-cry is caught up. It is like 
nothing in the world so much as the quick and staccato yell 
of a jackal pack, and it carries for two miles on a still night. 
One from another the Tibetans take up the weird cadences in 


an uprising falsetto, reviving and again reviving the hubbub 
whenever there seems any chance of its dying down. But the 
Gurkha house is mute, though its walls re-echo with the din. 
Then the Tibetans adopt another course. Shouting together 
in groups, they pour forth challenges and contempt upon the 
little garrison of forty or fifty Gurkhas. One or two swagger- 
ers come up within fifty yards of the very loopholes and scream 
out a flood of foul abuse. There is never a word or a shot in 
reply, and the braves retire. The fire re-opens and the enemy 
advance a little. Even the most timid Tibetan takes heart and 
looses off his piece a little less wildly. 

Inside the post, the Gurkhas stand aside in the darkness be- 
side their loopholes, through which a bullet whizzes every now 
and then, burying itself in the mud wall opposite. Two men keep 
watch for the rest, and Mewa, the jemadar, bides his time till 
he has word from them. The war-cry breaks out again, rising 
and falling like the bellowing falsetto of the mules' lines at 
feeding time, and the Tibetans grow confident and move for- 
ward, until a dim ring of them can just be seen from inside 
the post. The fire re-doubles, and a Gurkha is hit in the neck, 
but still there is not a sign of life about the house. The excite- 
ment of watching this attack from the roof of the post is as fresh 
to-night as if it were the first time we were seeing one. 

There must be about a thousand of the enemy. From Chang-lo 
we can hear them chattering and shrieking together, keeping 
their courage up with noise. One thinks of the fate that awaits 
every soul in that little garrison should they be caught unawares 
some night, and one blesses the foolishness of the noisy Tibetans. 

But the time is almost ripe. Mewa takes the place of one 
of his watchmen and looks down keenly through the dark. Af- 
ter a while, he is reluctantly convinced that the enemy cannot 
be induced to come forward again for some time, and he knows 
that the strain on his men has become severe. There is sud- 


denly a movement among twenty or thirty Tibetans ; they move 
round almost out of sight for a rush at the stake-protected door. 
From the parapet, we can hear a quick double whistle. It is the 
awaited signal, for the Gurkha post will risk no storming-party. 

In a moment there is pandemonium. From every window and 
loophole, and from between the sand-bags and through the crev- 
ices on the roof, a burst of Maxim-like fire is poured into the 
misty ring of men, which envelops the building, and the air aches 
with the incessant snap of the rifle and the very short scream 
of the bullet. In another moment all is over. The Tibetans 
have broken and are flying into the night, leaving five or six 
dead behind them. Their road back to the jong lies flat and free 
before them, and they never look back. The Maxim fire has 
stopped as suddenly as it had begun. Silence falls upon every- 
thing as before. Only the first rays of the rising moon strike 
full upon the upper terraces and towers of the jong, and the mass 
of it emerges from the distant darkness edged with silver and 
strangely near. It is still some two hours before sunrise, but 
as the moon frees herself from behind the hills to the east, 
the first faint ripple stirs the leaves overhead, and the silence of 
the night is lost. 

After the sun had risen the day became monotonous, and 
the monotony was repeated daily, from week's end to week's 
end. Even the poor interest of watching the first appearance 
of the vegetables in the garden palled. There was a day when 
nine little green points promised nine bean plants to come. 
Day after day added two or three to this number, but after 
the appearance of thirty-eight, there was not only a cessation 
of further evidence of fertility, but a lamentable check in the 
development of the plants already above ground. At one time 
the peas, two little square plots planted with a generosity of seed 
which would have scandalized Messrs. Sutton, arose in ranks 
almost in a single night, and a few days afterward were about 


three inches in height. Captain Walton, to whose hands the 
Mission had intrusted this responsible duty, assured us that 
all was going well. Both the beans and peas were, he assured 
us, of a dwarf variety. Indeed, he seemed to suggest, with 
apparent self-conviction, that had these two plots exhibited any 
further intention of growth he would have despaired of the 
dishes we were looking forward to. The carrots made no at- 
tempt to justify their credit, except in a prodigious growth of 
green feathery leaves. To them, and to the radishes, one fault 
was common. Where one expected to find the best part, a thin 
leather-bootlace-like root descended weedily into our carefully 
prepared loam. Nor, so far as I was ever able to ascertain, was 
a single dish of any vegetable, except mustard-and-cress, pro- 
duced from our carefully tended and certainly Eve-less garden. 

There was very little to do from morn to night. Captain 
Ryder planned the defenses of the post. Construction and 
demolition were alike in his hands; and the ultimate result of 
his care and technical skill was quaintly embodied one day by 
Colonel Brander in a sentence in the orders, — Si monumentum 
quaeris, circumspice. The original phrase referred, indeed, to 
a structure which served as a tomb, nor perhaps was the quota- 
tion strictly accurate, but Colonel Brander's intention was de- 
lightfully clear, and every soul in the garrison of each one of 
the many races there represented most cordially echoed the 

The direction from which most danger was to be expected 
was that of the jong. Every morning and every afternoon the 
usual bombardment broke out. It is possible that the Tibetans 
had secured some knowledge of the hours during which, from 
one reason or another, there was generally more movement in- 
side the post than at other times. The free intercourse which 
the Tibetan visitors to Kamba-jong enjoyed must, at least, have 
taught them something of our habits, and, without doubt, they 


made whatever use they could of this information. We early- 
received news that the Teling Kusho was directing operations. 
He had been allowed to see a good deal of us at Kamba. 

There was one thing in connection with this bombardment 
which may throw some light upon the ability of beleaguered 
garrisons in old days to hold their own until starvation com- 
pelled them to surrender. The fact that the report of a gun 
of an ancient pattern invariably precedes the ball was, we found, 
of the most invaluable assistance. There was always time to go 
four yards at least under cover of the nearest traverse before 
the ball crashed into the compound. There was one jingal, how- 
ever, which was christened " Chota Billy," which only allowed 
three yards and in extreme cases of over-charge of powder only 
two. The naming of the bigger guns mounted on the jong was 
curious. From a large jingal, throwing a ball four inches in 
circumference, and immediately receiving the name of Billy, 
two Chota Billies, one big Billy, and finally two Williams suc- 
cessively took their names. In all, there may have been at most 
nineteen guns mounted on the jong, of a bore ranging from 
one inch to three and three-quarter inches. All of them ranged 
easily some two or three hundred yards beyond Chang-lo. Wil- 
liam, the heaviest of all, would sometimes kick up the dust 
600 yards in our rear, and 2,400 yards from the jong; that is 
to say, from 800 to 1,000 yards beyond the post was the utmost 
range of any gun, except one of the two Chota Billies, which 
at a pinch could reach the bridge at the end of the wood 2,800 
yards from the gun positions of the rock. 

But most of their missiles fell short. The ground immedi- 
ately in front of Chang-lo was scarred and seamed with hun- 
dreds and even thousands of futile jingal balls which had 
dropped uselessly into the " football field " or the field outside. 
Only eight or ten of their best weapons threw projectiles with 
accuracy and certainty. The others heaved their muzzles up 


into the sky and trusted that elevation would counteract econ- 
omy of powder and the amazing escape of gas all round the 
ill-fitting bullet. Bigger guns made an astonishing report, and 
a second and a half later a lump of lead from William, as big 
as a Tangerine orange, would moan through the air, sometimes 
with unpleasant accuracy whipping down into the compound, 
or sometimes tearing its way through the high trees over our 
heads. Altogether about four men were killed by these mis-, 
shapen projectiles, which looked like sections of a solid lead bar 
with the edges roughly filed down. At first lead alone was used, 
but the appearance among us of balls composed of a heavy stone 
wrapped with lead suggested that the supply was running short. 
Later on, this surmise was justified, for a curious substitute for 
lead was found in the use of pure copper. During the last two 
weeks of the siege lumps of this glittering red-gold metal were 
used almost as constantly as those of more humble material. 

At one time the Tibetans adopted the principle of firing vol- 
leys. At a given signal fourteen or fifteen guns were fired in a 
ragged feu de joie. There was little additional danger to us 
even from the first of these concerted pieces. But it is clear that 
to follow such a volley by another, five minutes afterward, was 
sheer waste of ammunition. Still, almost everything in the 
post which could be struck was struck. Tents, sand-bags, trav- 
erses, house-walls, and trees were pounded alike. The trees 
suffered most; the Tibetans never seemed to be perfectly certain 
of the direction of any ball unless it betrayed its billet a hun- 
dred yards in front of our defenses. Naturally, therefore, in 
order at least to insure that no such obvious failure of aim 
should be noted against them by the Commandant, they preferred 
to elevate their guns at an angle which often only resulted in a 
shower of twigs and leaves from the lofty poplars over our heads. 

In those trees the kites whistled and the ravens croaked all day. 
Both species were twice the size of ravens and kites elsewhere. 


Captain Walton would not admit that this enormous difference 
in size justified him in setting them down as a new species, but 
the practical results of having these double-powered scavengers 
probably contributed in no small degree to our comfort. Outside 
our defenses the unclaimed pi-dogs roamed all day and howled 
nearly all the night. By day they were probably engaged in 
unearthing the long-buried limbs of some wretched Tibetan 
killed during the attack upon the post on May 5th. By night 
they seemed to be disputing among themselves the possession of 
the disgusting spoils they had secured during the day. At one 
time Colonel Brander arranged for the destruction of some scores 
of these parasites. But this was found to be a somewhat dan- 
gerous proceeding when carried out within half a mile of the 
camp. Two charges of attempted assassination were brought by 
a person of no small importance in the post, and, though these 
cases were smilingly dismissed, there was undoubtedly a certain 
element of danger in permitting this indiscriminate dog-slaughter 
with rifles which were capable of inflicting serious harm at a 
range of 4,000 yards. So the dogs were permitted to grout in 
the ground as they liked, and as a set-off against the intolerable 
nuisance of their howls by night, it was remembered that they 
might perhaps thereby give us useful warning of any second 
attempt on the part of the Tibetans to creep up in the darkness 
of a moonless night. 

Of the dogs within the defenses " Tim " was perhaps the best 
known, and certainly in his own eyes the most important. He 
was an Irish terrier belonging, so far as any dog very certainly 
belonged to any one there, to Captain Cullen, but the members of 
the Mission, making a contemptible use of the few occasional tit- 
bits which were found in their mess-boxes, successfully seduced 
him away from his true allegiance for some time. Of other 
dogs mention must be made of " Mr. Jackson," a little beauty of 
an Irish terrier, who we were assured enjoyed every minute of 


his life in spite of a permanently dislocated shoulder. He un- 
doubtedly limped, and he evfen more certainly enjoyed life; but 
we could not help hoping that some mistake had been made in 
the diagnosis of his complaint. " Major Wimberley," a fearsome 
hound, had undoubtedly bull-dog and fox-terrier as his chief 
ingredients, but it was difficult finally to exclude his claims to 
any other breed of dog, except perhaps a greyhound or Pekinese 
pug. I do not remember what the real name of this entirely 
attractive dog was, but he used to go, on the below-stairs princi- 
ple, by his master's name, and I am sorry that no photograph I 
possess seems to include his sober countenance. " The Lama " 
was a snarling, bad-tempered little beast, who produced a litter 
of pups of such appalling vulgarity and ugliness that, in spite 
of the real need which we then had of the companionship of 
even an animal, they were drowned by her native owner without 
a protest from any one. 

To many it may seem unnecessary, and perhaps silly, to make 
even this passing reference to the dogs that shared our captivity. 
But without going more deeply into the matter, I would only 
say that a critic should experience even the slight investment 
which it was our lot to undergo before he speaks slightingly of 
the right of a dog to grateful recollection. 

For the rest, one day succeeded another without change, and 
except for the uncertainty of the arrival of the daily post, with- 
out variety. There was little actual danger, but we were of 
course restricted to the narrow limits of the defended posts for 
the greater part of the time of the investment. Toward the end, 
when we had secured and were holding Pala village and the 
Gurkha post, and after Sheppard had constructed his covered 
ways between us and them, more exercise was possible. But 
for the greater part of the time we could not stray beyond our 
own perimeter, and that in itself became somewhat of a burden. 
Perhaps the want of exercise contributed in no small degree to 


the irritation caused by this sense of captivity, but whatever the 
cause, an observant man might at times have noticed a shght 
tendency toward what we believe was called, in Ladysmith, 
" siege temper." In fact, with the exception — and in justice I 
must say the absolute exception — of Colonel Younghusband him- 
self and Captain Sheppard, there was hardly any one in the little 
force who was entirely free from a touch of this pardonable 

It is a pity that there were not more men with the force who 
were able to sketch. The most rudimentary skill in color would 
have found scope indeed at Gyantse. As it was, there was hardly 
a paint-box in the force, if we except the little old-fashioned 
cakes of color which officially provide for the sappers the reds 
and grays and ochers needed for their plans. However, even 
had there been more skill and better equipment, there would have 
been little time for the mere work of the artist. It is perhaps 
worth while to try to catch in words a little of what the finest 
photograph must fail utterly to record. 

The color of Tibet has no parallel in the world. Nowhere, 
neither in Egypt, nor in South Africa, nor even in places of such 
local reputation as Sydney, or Calcutta, or Athens, is there such 
a constancy of beauty, night and morning alike, as there is in 
this fertile plain inset in the mountain backbone of the world. 
Here there is a range and a quality in both light and color which 
cannot be rendered by the best of colored plates, but which must 
always be remembered if the dry bones of figure and fact are to 
be properly conceived. 

During the mid-hours of a summer day, Tibet is perhaps not 
unlike the rest of the dry tropical zone. Here, as elsewhere, the 
fierce Oriental sun scares away the softer tints, and the shrinking 
and stretching shadows of the white hours are too scanty to 
relieve the mirage and the monotony. All about Chang-lo the 
contemptuous shoulders of the shadeless mountains stand blank 


and unwelcoming. All along the plain as far as the eye can see 
the stretches of iris or barley and the plantations of willow-thorn 
are dulled into eucalyptus gray by the dust; the trees lift them- 
selves dispirited, and the faint droop of every blade and every 
leaf tires the eye with unconscious sympathy. Far off along the 
Shigatse road a pack-mule shuffles along, making in sheer weari- 
ness as much dust as the careless hoofs of a bullock, that dustiest 
of beasts. One does not look at the houses. The sun beats off 
their coarse and strong grained whitewash, and one can hardly 
believe that they are the same dainty buildings of pearl-gray or 
rose-pink that one watched as they faded out of sight with the 
sunset yesterday evening. Everything shivers behind the crawl- 
ing skeins of mirage. There is no strength, there are no out- 
lines to anything in the plain, and even the hard thorn trees in 
the plantation are flaccid. As one passes underneath them a kite 
or two dives downward from the branches. He will disturb 
little dust as he moves, for your kite mistrusts a new perch, and 
the bough he sits on must be leafless both for the traverse of his 
outlook, and for the clear oarage of his wide wings. Also, you 
may be sure he has been to and fro fifty times to-day. See him 
settle a hundred yards away near that ugly significant heap of 
dirty maroon cloth, and mark the dust thrown forward by the 
thrashing brake-stroke of his great wings. It hangs in a petty 
cloud still when we have come up to him and driven him away 
in indignation for a little space. 

Under foot the dwarf clematis shuts in from the midday heat 
its black snake-head flowers, and the young shoots of the jasmine 
turn the backs of their tender leaflets to the sun, drooping a little 
as they do so. Veronica is there in stunted little bushes ; vetches, 
rest-harrows, and dwarf indigo-like plants swarm along the sides 
of the long dry water channels; and here and there, where the 
ditch runs steep, you may find, along toward the southern face, 
what looks for all the world like a thickly strewn bank of violets. 


Violets of course they are not, but the illusion is perfect, in color, 
growth, and size alike. Near them tall fresh-looking docks have 
found a wet stratum deep below the dusty irrigation cut, and 
away in a sopping water meadow by the river stunted Himalayan 
primulas make a cloudy carpet of pink. 

Late in the afternoon the change begins. Details of flowers 
and fields and trees vanish — and surely one is content to lose 
them in the scene that follows. First, the light pall of pure blue 
which has all day gauzed over the end of the valley toward 
Dongtse deepens into ultramarine ash. Then, in a few minutes 
as it seems, the fleeces of white and silver in the west have gath- 
ered weight, and a mottled company of argent and silver-gray 
and cyanine heaps itself across the track of the setting sun. The 
sky deepens from blue to amber without a transient tint of green, 
and the red camp-fires whiten as the daylight fades. But the 
true sunset is not yet. After many minutes comes the sight 
which is perhaps Tibet's most exquisite and peculiar gift: the 
double glory of the east and west alike, and the rainbow confu- 
sion among the wide waste of white mountain ranges. 

For ten minutes the sun will fight a path clear of his clouds 
and a luminous ray sweeps down the valley, lighting up the un- 
suspected ridges and blackening the lurking hollows of the hills. 
This is no common light. The Tibetans themselves have given 
it a name of its own, and indeed the gorse-yellow blaze which 
paints its shadows myrtle-green underneath the deepened indigo 
of the sky defies description and deserves a commemorative 
phrase for itself alone. But the strange thing is still to come. 
A quick five-fingered aurora of rosy light arches over the sky, 
leaping from east to west as one gazes overhead. The fingers 
converge again in the east, where a growing splendor shapes it- 
self to welcome them on the horizon's edge.^ 

^ Travelers have more than once referred to this curious phenomenon, 
and the Tibetans have a word, "Ting-pa," for this rosy and cloudless beam 


Then comes the dimax of the transformation scene. While 
the carmine is still over-arching the sky, on either side the horizon 
deepens to a still darker shade, and the distant hills stand out 
against it with uncanny sharpness, iridescent for all the world 
like a jagged and translucent scale of mother-of-pearl lighted 
from behind. Above them the ravines and the ridges are alike 
lost, and in their place mantles a pearly underplay of rose-petal 
pink and eau-de-nil green, almost moving as one watches. Then 
the slowly developed tints tire and grow dull ; the quick evening 
gloom comes out from the plain, and a sharp little wind from 
the southeast is the herald of the stars. 

These sunsets are as unlike the " cinnamon, amber, and dun " 
of South Africa as the high crimson, gold-flecked curtains of 
Egypt, or the long contrasting belts of the western sky in mid- 
ocean. So peculiar are they to this country that they have as 
much right to rank as one of its characteristic features as Lamaic 
superstition, or the " bos grunniens " itself ; and to leave them 
unmentioned, however imperfect and crude the suggestion may 
be, would be to cover up the finest page of the book which is 
only now after many centuries opened to the world. That alone 
is my excuse for attempting what every man in this expedition 
knows in his heart to be impossible. 

religion: manners and customs: art 

IN Tibet the line of division between the layman and the priest 
is sharply drawn indeed. The domestic life of the country, 
its government, its cultivation and even, in some degree, its com- 
merce, all are colored to a greater or less extent by the strange 
religion centered in the divine person of the Grand Lama of 
Lhasa; and the line of honorable demarcation, so far as persons 
are concerned, permits of no mistake. If a man is a layman he 
belongs to an inferior caste; however high his rank he does but 
the more point the contrasts which exist between the rulers and 
the ruled. The Lamaic hierarchy have succeeded in creating a 
religious caste unparalleled in the world. 

What that religion is, demands therefore more than a passing 
notice. There is, or rather there has hitherto been, a belief that 
the Buddhism of Tibet is a lawful descendant of the Buddhism 
which the Master preached beneath the pipuls of Bengal. Ex- 
travagant it was known to be; it was obvious that it had become 
incrusted in ritual, and both adorned and humbled by traditions ; 
it was clear also that for the common folk the letter had almost 
killed the spirit, and the use by the priests of their sacred posi- 
tion to secure entire tyranny over the laymen had not escaped 
notice. But after all, the same things, each and all of them in 
some form or another, are to-day true of Christianity also. And 
yet the flame of Christianity, however strange or tawdry the 
shrine, burns perhaps as steadily to-day as ever it did. This 

ever-ready parallel— one which the student carries with him 



almost unconsciously to the consideration of Buddhism — has ob- 
scured the truth. 

But the Buddhism of Tibet has no longer the faintest resem- 
blance to the plain austere creed which Gautama preached. It 
is doubtful if the great Founder of Buddhism would recognize in 
its forms or formulae any trace of the purity and sobriety of his 
own high creed. It is hard to say whether he would be more 
offended by the golden cooking-pots of the Potala palace or by 
the awful self-mortification of the immured monks of Nyen-de- 
kyi-buk and other extreme hermitages. Except in so far as that 
Buddha's face of quietism personified still gazes down from wall 
and altar upon the rites of Lamaism, that religion can claim little 
connection with the faith upon which their reputation and power 
are wholly based. Under a thin mask of names and personifica- 
tions suggested by the records of the Master, or by the reforms 
effected by Asanga, a system of devil-worship pure and simple 
reigns in Tibet; the monkish communities spare no effort to 
establish their predominance more firmly every year by fostering 
the slavish terror which is the whole attitude toward religion of 
the ignorant classes of the land. The wretched tiller of the soil 
is always the ultimate supporter of a religious tyranny, because 
in a manufacturing community the faculties, and a sense of inde- 
pendence, are necessarily developed too strongly for its tolera- 
tion; but of all such superstitious servitudes the unhappy 
" miser " of Tibet supplies us to-day with the classical example. 
Not even the darkest days of the Papal States, nor the most big- 
oted years of Puritan rule in New England, not the intolerance 
of Genevan Calvinism, not Islam itself can afford an example of 
such utter domination by an abuse of the influence upon men of 
their religious terrors. The line between religion and supersti- 
tion may be a fine one and hard to place. But wherever it may 
be drawn the Buddhist of Tibet has long crossed it. 

From a political point of view, the importance of the religion 


of any country lies less in its moral or ethical excellence than in 
the extent to which it exerts a real influence upon the lives of its 
professing members and in the use or misuse of that influence 
in the government of the country. Apart, therefore, from the ac- 
tual doctrine or ritual of this so-called Buddhism, the degree to' 
which it enters into the public and private life of the Tibetans is 
worth studying. It may be said at once that, so far at least as the 
lower classes are concerned, it is paramount: no other influence 
is of the slightest importance. But whether that influence de- 
serves to be called religious is another matter. The distinction 
between northern and southern Buddhism is one which is far 
more than geographical. The common people of Burma and 
Siam still apply the standards of Gaya to their daily life, but 
northern Buddhism has long abandoned, except in name, the 
Indian faith. In their vain repetitions and mechanical aids to 
self-salvation, in their gaudy and frequently obscene ritual, in 
their hells full of demon spirits and fearsome semi-gods, Bud- 
dha's simple creed has long been dead. The doctrine of reincar- 
nation, rather implied than taught by him, is still politically use- 
ful, and therefore remains as almost the sole link which still 
connects the two Churches. Brushing aside the films of ritual 
and the untruthful suggestions of tradition, one finds in Lama- 
ism little but sheer animistic devil-worship. 

To the Tibetans, every place is peopled with the active agents 
of a supernatural malice. Always in this country — at the sum- 
mit of a pass, at the entrance of a village, at a cleft in the rock- 
side, at the crossing of a stream by bridge or ford — one is ac- 
customed to find the flicker of a rain-washed string of flags, a 
fluttering prayer-pole, or a gaily decked brush of ten-foot willow 
sprigs; evil spirits must be exorcised at every turn in the road. 
Wells, lakes and running streams also are full of demons who 
visit with floods and hailstorms the slightest infraction of the 
lamas' rules. Tibet is peopled with as many bogies as the most 


terrified child in England can conjure up in the darkness of its 
bed-room. A natural cave, a chink beneath a boulder, a farm- 
stead, the row of willows beside an irrigation channel, or the low 
mill house at the end of them, a doorway or a chorten — every 
habitation of man teems with these unseen terrors. The spilling 
of the milk upon the hearth-stone needs its special expiation, and 
the birth and death of men are naturally perhaps made the oppor- 
tunity of securing oblations from the people of the land. For 
there is but one way of exorcising these powers of ill. Prayers 
are not of themselves the defenses of the poor in Tibet ; they can 
only be lively and effectual when sanctioned by the priest; and 
the fluttering prayer-flag, the turning-wheel, or the muttered 
ejaculation is valid only after due consultation at the local gompa. 
And not a pole is set up, not a string of flags pulled taut, not a 
water-wheel or a wind-wheel set in motion without the payment 
of the customary fee. The priestly tax is not paid in money 
alone. The labors of the people's hands are g.t the disposal of 
the ruling caste. The corvee is known in Tibet as it was known 
in ancient Egypt, and no feudal seigniory of the Dark Ages in 
Europe ever exacted its full rights as mercilessly as this narrow 
sect of self-indulgent priests. 

Invariably there will be found outside a house four things. 
The first is the prayer-pole or the horizontal sag of a line of 
moving squares of gauze ; the second is a broken teapot of earth- 
enware from which rises the cheap incense of burnt juniper twigs 
—a smell which demons cannot abide ; the third, a nest of worsted 
rigging, shaped like a cobweb and set about with colored linen 
tags, catkins, leaves, sprigs and little blobs of willow often crown- 
ing the skull of a dog or sheep. The eyes are replaced by hid- 
eous projecting balls of glass and a painted crown-vallary rings 
it round. Hither the spirits of disease within the house are help- 
lessly attracted, and smallpox, the scourge of Tibet, may never 
enter there. Last of all is the white and blue swastika or fylfot. 


surmounted by a rudely drawn symbol of the sun and moon. 
This sign marks every main doorway in the country.^ 

Other more public charms against evil are the chortens or 
cairns which piety or terror has set up at small intervals along 
the road to be a continual nuisance to the impious traveler. Like 
the " islands " in Piccadilly or the Strand, they may only be 
passed to the left, and their position on the edge of a cliff often 
renders this in one direction a hazardous proceeding. There are, 
of course, no carts or wheeled vehicles of any kind in Tibet, or 
this superstition would long ago have become extinguished 
through sheer necessity. As it is, the chorten remains till the 
cliff itself falls, but to the last there is generally foothold on 
which to climb round the outside of a cairn. It may be noted as 
a psychological curiosity that, after living in the country for a 
few months, the least thoughtful man in the force usually adopted 
this superstition as he walked along, though, of course, when rid- 
ing it is not unnatural for Englishmen. 

Here and there one finds long walls, composed for the most 
part of inscribed stones; these mendangs or manis represent the 
accretions of many years, and some in Tibet are reported to be 
half a mile in length. They do not, however, assume the impor- 
tance in the province of U that they possess farther to the west. 
To other pious memorials also the passer-by adds his contribution 
of a stone. A few white pebbles of quartzite carefully selected 

* A good deal of inaccurate statement has been made about the swastika. 
To nothing did I pay more attention than in noting the color and shape of re- 
ligious emblems as we penetrated deeper and deeper into the country. It is 
said that the swastika which revolves to the right is consecrated to the use 
of orthodox Buddhists of whatever school, and that the swastika which kicks 
in the other direction, that is to say which revolves to the left, is used only by 
the Beun-pa, the aboriginal devil-worshipers, whose faith was ousted by the 
adoption of Buddhism. This is not borne out by the relative frequency of 
position of the two swastikas in Tibet. The left-handed swastika {i.e., that 
which turns to the dexter) is, if anything, the commoner of the two, and the 
commonest use of this symbol is in the opposition of the two kinds : thus the 
two halves of a doorway, or the pattern of a rug, will generally offer an ex- 
ample of the two kinds confronted. 


from the neighboring stone-strewn field will acquire for him no 
small merit if heaped together in a little pyramid, or piled with 
careful balance one on the top of another. Prayer-wheels offer 
their fluted axles to the hand of the traveler in long rows, hung 
up conveniently beside the wall of a house. The poorest may 
thus accumulate merit. I have before referred to the use of 
prayer-wheels, but it may be added here that besides the hand- 
turned wheels and those moved by water, the principle of the 
anemometer has long been known for the purposes of Lamaic 
devotion, and the essential principle of the turbine is found in 
little gauze-sided stoves which drive a tiny rotating tun by hot 
air forced through a spiral. 

The walls of the merest hovels are plastered with yellow paper 
charms; and round their necks the people carry amulet boxes, 
without which no Tibetan ventures far. These are packed with 
a cheap little image of clay, a few grains of sanctified wheat, two 
or three written charms and a torn scrap of a sacred katag, origi- 
nally thrown over the shoulders or head of some famous image. 
Pills, too, may be found in the box, red pills certified to contain 
some speck of the ashes of the Guru Rinpoche. For the special 
purposes of this year, one often found a small, sharply triangular 
piece of flint. This was guaranteed to be a perfect protection 
against the bullets of the foreigner. For all these things the 
lamas have to be paid, and we soon realized that their control 
over the souls of their flock was used solely to secure an unlimited 
tyranny over their worldly possessions. The riches of Tibet are, 
almost without exception, enjoyed by the priestly class. 

It may be not without interest to draw attention to a curious 
and special use of the one doctrine which connects Lamaism still 
with Gautama by a fundamental dogma. It is a cynical misuse 
of the theory of reincarnation, the employment of it as a political 
lever. Augurs do not look at augurs when they meet, but when 
they quarrel they sometimes afford the onlooker some amusement. 


The present Dalai Lama (at the time of writing it does not seem 
at all clear that we have succeeded in weakening his hold upon 
place and power) made for political reasons a sudden and con- 
venient discovery, that Tsong-kapa, the great reformer of Lama- 
ism, was reincarnated in the person of the Tzar of Russia. This 
announcement was, of course, intended to smooth the way to that 
closer union between the two states which Dorjieff had so success- 
fully managed to begin. As a statement in itself by the reincarna- 
tion of Avalokiteswara, it was difficult to deny or even to discuss 
the truth of the proposition. But the indignant Tsong-du were 
equal to the occasion. They countered gracefully. In effect they 
said, " How interesting and how lucky for the Tzar ! " But the 
guardian of this country, the Chinese Emperor, is also a reincar- 
nation. He, as they reminded the forgetful Tubdan, is, poor 
man, the existing representation of the god of learning, Jampa- 
lang, and therefore is not lightly to be ousted from his predomi- 
nance in Tibet. 

Here matters remain, though the Grand Lama had no reason 
to regret the extension of this graceful courtesy to the Tzar. 
It is a fact beyond dispute, deny it as the Russian individual may, 
that the " Little Father," in virtue of his position as head of the 
Christian Church in Russia, sent with all ceremony a complete 
set of the vestments of a Bishop of the Greek Church to the Dalai 
Lama. This is perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all the 
strange incidents in connection with this odd expedition. A Rus- 
sian would probably prefer to deny than to explain the fact. It 
does not seem probable that it was caused by any similar lapse 
from common sense as that which the early Christians displayed 
when they raised Buddha to a place among the saints of the 
Church. (This is a fairly well-known fact, and, if evidence were 
needed, the life of St. Joasaph, as told in the " Golden Legend," 
would convince the most skeptical.) Still, it is a long step from 
including the personality of a very holy pagan by inadvertence 


among the pillars of the Early Church to the symbolic acceptance 
as a Christian, and subsequent appointment as an apostolically 
descended bishop, of the most typical character in the heathen 
world to-day. 

Among these freaks of politico-religious strategy, one of the 
most amazing was the reincarnate representative which, by uni- 
versal consent, was found for the soul and spirit of one of the 
terrible guardian deities of the land and of the faith. Palden- 
Ihamo is a dark-blue lady with three eyes who sits upon a chest- 
nut mule drinking blood from a skull and trampling under foot 
the torn and mutilated bodies of men and women. Her crown is 
composed of skulls, her eye teeth are four inches long, and the 
bridle, girths, and crupper are living snakes kept in position by 
the dripping skin of a recently flayed man. Of this atrocity the 
Tibetans found a reincarnation in Queen Victoria. This they did 
without the slightest wish or intention in the world to do any- 
thing but convey the highest possible personal compliment. The 
" horrible " aspect of these guardian deities does but increase their 
virtue and their efficacy. They represent the old heathen tyrants 
of the land who were brought into subjection by Buddha, and 
left with all their horrible attributes to scare away every evil, es- 
pecially the intruder and the enemy. This last reincarnation was 
so well known, that a lama will think an Englishman ignorant if 
he does not know it; and he will explain that, after all, if proof 
were needed of the truth of what they believe, it is to be found in 
the fact that Tibet, during Queen Victoria's long reign, was 
saved from invasion, saved even from that intercourse which they 
hate nearly as much, and that after her death and her return to be 
reincarnated again in a little child in Tibet, the English troops 
immediately bore down upon their sacred capital. 

As I have said, no priestly caste in the history of religion has 
ever fostered and preyed upon the terror and ignorance of its 
flock with the systematic brigandage of the lamas. It may be 


that, hidden away in some quiet lamasery, far from the main 
routes, Kim's lama may still be found. Once or twice in the quiet 
unworldly abbots of such monasteries as those of Dongtse or 
Ta-ka-re, one saw an attractive and almost impressive type of 
man ; but the heads of the hierarchy are very different men, and 
by them the country is ruled with a rod of iron. The vast aggre- 
gation of symbols and ceremonies which have strangled the life 
out of the simple and beautiful faith of Buddha is but a barrier 
which the more effectually separates the priestly caste from its 
lay serfs. To educate the latter in any way would be to strike 
at the root of Lamaic supremacy, and, therefore, the whole land 
is sunk in an ignorance to which it would be difficult to find a par- 
allel. To these unlettered hinds the awful figures which scowl 
from the gompa wall, blood bespattered, with dripping tusks and 
bloated and beastlike bodies, are as veritable as were ever the pic- 
tures of a medieval hell to the frightened catechumen. To them 
the muttering or the fluttering of the strange charm, om mani 
padme hum, is the easiest, and for them the only, pathway to a 
vague well-being after death, provided spiritual pastors shall have 
sanctioned and hedged about with charms their earthly life. 

These simple people are a pleasant race. You will always meet 
in the poorest hut with unfailing courtesy; not only is it an un- 
questioned duty, but you would believe it also to be a pleasure, 
for them instantly to bring forth an offering of their best. It may 
be small enough — a little bowl of barley, three or four eggs in 
the hand— but there it will always be. Eggs may cost but two- 
pence a dozen in the nearest village, but it is only fair to remem- 
ber that pennies are scarce among these poor people. They live a 
toilsome and hard life uncomplainingly, without the wits to re- 
alize that any other could be their lot. The ordinary villager 
sleeps and eats on the floor of the hut. Furniture he has, of 
course, none ; two or three brass or copper bowls, a big unglazed 
red porcelain teapot^ a few lengths of thick red or gray cloth are 


(besides the implements of his trade) all you will ever find in a 
Tibetan house. 

Perhaps the best known thing about Tibet is the habit prevalent 
throughout the country for a woman to marry all her husband's 
brothers as well as himself. This is a curious custom and I do not 
think that any sufficient reason has ever been given for it; natu- 
rally it fills the nunneries, and the population of the country, 
whether due to this fact alone or not, is steadily decreasing. The 
plan, however, seems to work well enough so far as the family is 
concerned. Perhaps they expect very little, but the fact remains 
that these many-husbanded ladies seem able to keep a comfortable 
enough home for their changing housemates. That, I think, may 
be the reason why friction rarely or never occurs. If there are 
three sons in a family the third will become a lama, the eldest will 
remain chiefly at home, the second son will tend the flocks on 
the grazing grounds or carry the wool to the nearest market ; the 
two brothers, therefore, do not very often meet, and the good 
lady apparently chooses which of the two she would rather look 
after for the moment. The result is apparent in one way; the 
women have developed a distinctly stronger character than the 
men. No layman or laywoman, of course, has any opportunity 
of public influence— that is entirely reserved for the lamas; but 
in the realm of commerce the women are usually supreme. Both 
at Gyantse and at Lhasa my experience was the same. It was 
the woman who managed the family trading, and if the man were 
there at all it was only to help in carrying the goods backward 
and forward between the bazaar and the town. I have at times 
known a woman refer to her husband before she would sell me 
any unusually good turquoise-studded charm box or other jewel, 
but as a rule they seemed to dispose of the family possessions 
without consulting any one. Any one who knows India will ap- 
preciate from this fact alone the vast difference that the barrier of 
the Himalayas causes. Some of these women are not bad-look- 


ing. I say this with some doubt, because beneath the dirt of 
many years it is impossible to do more than guess at their com- 
plexions. Their children are charming little things. 

Into the home life of the Tibetans our almost complete igno- 
rance of the language, coupled with the state of armed neutrality, 
if not actual war, which so often characterized their attitude to- 
ward us, made it difficult for us to enter. So far as I could — 
far more than any one else except O'Connor, with whom I gen- 
erally paid such visits, and whose fluency in Tibetan was as in- 
valuable to both of us as it was exasperating and coveted by me 
— I made a point of seeing the Tibetans, both lay and clerical, 
in their homes. 

On one occasion we went out for luncheon to a somewhat in- 
teresting family. The man was the eldest son of the Maharajah of 
Sikkim. At a period of stress in the relations between the Indian 
Government and the royal family of Sikkim, this young man had 
been given the choice between returning to the territory of Sik- 
kim, or of forfeiting his succession. He elected to remain in 
Tibet, and from that day he has never seen his relatives. The 
present Crown Prince of Sikkim — one of the best known to Euro- 
peans of all the young princes of India — assumed the position, 
and, thanks entirely to the prudence and sympathy of Mr. Claude 
White, promises to become a useful and loyal Rajah. To his 
brother's house O'Connor and I went. Taring, his residence, is 
situated seven or eight miles from Gyantse along the road to 
Lhasa. It is a house of no great pretensions, prettily hidden 
among trees. The young couple entertained us hospitably ; Prince 
Namgyel was simply but richly dressed, his wife was wearing a 
fine kincob and an exquisite head-dress in which the high aureole 
commonly in use was barely recognizable under the strings of 
pearls which webbed the whole thing. Servants there were in 
half dozens, and the meal we had was full of interest. It began 
with tea. 


Tea in Tibet is a thing entirely after its own kind. It bears 
not the vaguest resemblance to the pale, scented beverage of China 
and Japan, nor to the milkless and lemon-flavored glassfuls of 
Russia ; still less to the sugared slops which one finds in London. 
Tea in Tibet is imported in the shape of bricks, which vary very 
much in quality ; they are made in the province of Sze-chuan and 
the tea-leaves are glued, with something that looks suspiciously 
like sawdust, into hard blocks of which it would puzzle Mincing 
Lane to distinguish the various grades. But for the veriest Tib- 
etan child du-nyi is unmistakable for du-tang. Next to du-nyi 
comes chuha, and the last and worst kind is known as gye-ha} 

A corner is knocked off a five-pound brick and it is infused with 
boiling water in a teapot. The tea is then poured into a cylindri- 
cal bamboo churn and a large lump of salt is churned up into it ; 
the amount of energy which is spent upon this churning is ex- 
traordinary. I suppose the reason is that the heat should not be 
lost before the tea is drinkable. The moment this is well churned 
up, a pound of butter is also slid down into the bamboo and an- 
other minute's furious work produces the liquid as it is drunk in 
Tibet. If you are expecting the sweetened milky brew of Eng- 
land, when you put your lips to it you will be disgusted. It is a 
thickish chocolate colored mess, sometimes strengthened with a 
little flour, to give it greater consistency. But if you will regard 
it as soup you will find that it has certain very sound qualities as 
a meal in itself. I have been actually glad to drink it after a long 

After tea our exiled hostess gave us the real luncheon. It be- 
gan with a heaped bowlful of boiled eggs. The worst of these 
meals in a new country is that you never know either how, or 

* It is characteristically Eastern that these four grades of quality, first, sec- 
ond, third, and fourth, should in Tibetan be called first, second, tenth, and 
eighth. I make a small note like this in order to deter the matter-of-fact 
European from contradicting the statements of Central Asian travelers merely 
because they are logically impossible. 


how much to eat. The first question solves itself in Tibet because, 
except as curiosities, there are no spoons or forks. But we did not 
know how many courses were to follow, and it must be confessed 
that the first draught of Tibetan tea is extraordinarily effective 
in damping one's appetite. We tried two eggs apiece out of the 
white heap and waited. The servants did not so much change the 
dishes as accumulate them, and little by little other things came 
straggling in from the kitchen. The next course was composed 
of sweet chupatty-like things which had absolutely no taste what- 
ever and were rather mealy in the mouth. Then came little balls 
of forcemeat skewered by fours upon a straw. These we eat con- 
scientiously, but a following dish of twenty different kinds of 
sweets did not prepare us for the mo-mo which, as the Tibetan 
pikce de resistance, we should have anticipated. These are dump- 
lings of thick pudding wrapped round strange meat. I would 
not for the world suggest that any mistake had been made by 
the cook, but after the sweets, this mixture of suet and carrion 
was almost more than we could stomach. However, the dish had 
to be eaten, and eaten it was. Prince Namgyel was hospitality 
itself and the drink he offered us was extraordinarily good. It 
was a home-made whisky with all the peat reek of Irish potheen. 
Only too conscious of the diminishing stores of the Mission, both 
of us made a mental note of this excellent stuff and determined 
that we would take off our host's hands as much as he was willing 
to sell when our own supplies ran short.^ I remember noticing 
behind me, nailed up against a pillar, two colored photographs. 
One was of the new palace at Gangtok, the other, somewhat to my 
surprise, was of our host's stepmother, the present Maharani. 
This lady, still one of the most attractive looking of Tibetan wo- 
men, was a daughter of the great aristocratic Lhasan family of 

* Unfortunately, before another week had elapsed the Tibetans were bom- 
barding the Mission, a state of war was declared, and poor Namgyel and his 
wife had fled to his father's other property on the shores of Lake Tsomo. 


Lheding. The circumstances immediately preceding her mar- 
riage with the Maharajah, about seventeen years ago, drew a 
good deal of attention at the time to a personality, the strength 
of which is apparent after an acquaintance of five minutes. In 
other circumstances she might have exercised the same power as 
the Empress Dowager of China or as the mother of Queen Su- 
pi-ya-lat; as it is, the political officer of Sikkim will, if you ask 
him, assure you that she has long been a factor in our relations 
with Tibet which by no means could be disregarded. Her two 
eldest children were born to her husband's younger brother before 
she reached Sikkim. This lapse cannot be explained away as an 
instance of Tibetan polyandry, as no " wife " of a younger brother 
is shared by the elder brothers. However, the matter was over- 

The walls of Taring were painted with minute delicacy, and 
the design of the invariably present animal acrobats — the bird on 
the rabbit, on the monkey, on the elephant — was the best I ever 
saw. We took leave of our kindly host and hostess, and the former 
a day or two later rode into camp for a luncheon, which this time 
was less of a change from the usual diet of the guest. 

The servants of Tibetans, even of the highest, are abominably 
dirty. It was a curious thing to see outside the tent, in which the 
gleam of gold and brocade and light-blue silk mingled, the wait- 
ing attendants with grimy faces and torn and dirty clothes. At 
Chema I obtained permission from the lady herself to photo- 
graph the belle of the Chumbi Valley. I wanted her to come out 
to the doorway of her house, but she was much too aristocratic 
a young woman to be so taken. I was asked to come into the 
women's apartments, where, in an almost dark room, the lady, 
most beautifully dressed and certainly looking extremely hand- 
some, was seated on a raised platform, with her dirty maid stand- 
ing behind her. I did not want the maid in the picture, and said 
so. But Lady Dordem was firm ; she had three husbands in the 


room at the time, but she would not be taken without a chaperon. 
She very properly argued that no one who saw the picture could 
know that her natural protectors were at the photographer's 
elbow. The photograph was not a success, for an enormously long 
exposure was necessary and no contrast of any kind could be 

Tibetan women of the highest class travel very little, but when 
they do, they wrap themselves in a huge shapeless rug, which al- 
most conceals the fact that they are riding astride. The saddles 
of the Tibetans are curious high structures, under which a beau- 
tiful cloth is placed, and the whole is then concealed by rug after 
rug. The rider is thus raised eight or nine inches from the horse's 
back, which gives his mount a camel-like appearance. No Tib- 
etan rides very fast, but the ponies are trained to amble at a pace 
which gets over the ground as fast as any one would care to trot. 
Shoes are not used, and the bits are merciful; but there is the 
inevitable Oriental insensibility to the sufferings of a galled and 
sore-backed brute. At these altitudes sores will not heal. When 
the skin is broken the want of oxygen in the air delays the heal- 
ing of the wound, but " out of sight, out of mind " is as true in 
Tibet as elsewhere, and the beast is still ridden day after day. 
On the crupper and bridle there are often fine filigree plates of 
brass and sometimes good Chinese enamel. The stirrups are un- 
necessarily heavy; a handsome dragon design is often embodied 
in them. 

I have said that the Tibetans are a courteous race. Unlike 
Hindustani races, they not only have, but continually use, the 
words for please (ro nang, literally " good help ") and thank you 
(tu che). The greeting to a visitor, corresponding roughly with 
" how do you do," is literally " sit and adhere to the carpet," 
while the farewell of a visitor may be translated " sit down 
slowly." His host speeds his departing guest with an adjuration 
to " walk slowly." The language is entirely distinct both from 


Hindustani and Chinese. It is an agglutinative, monosyllabic 
tongue, and neither the structure nor the fairly large vocabulary 
is difficult to acquire. But the trouble is that almost from the 
outset the practical colloquial language is found by the learner 
to be an inextricable tangle of idioms. Experience of the East 
should long have taught one never to say " why? " but the eccen- 
tricities of the Tibetan wrench it from one at every turn. A thing 
which is at once apparent is the indistinctness with which it is 
muttered. If you were to say to a man " call me to-morrow 
morning at six o'clock," " nga-la sang-nyin shoge chutseu druk- 
la ketang" deliberately and slowly, he would smile politely, but 
make not the slightest attempt to understand ; but if, on the other 
hand, you threw at him something like " nyalsannin-shoshutsti- 
dullaketn " you would be understood in a moment. 

Some words used in Tibetan are very expressive ; the word for 
a duck is " mud fowl " ; to awaken is to " murder sleep " ; a flower 
is a " button (or canopy) of fire "; a general is a " Lord of the 
Arrow " ; bribery could hardly be more neatly defined than by 
the Tibetan " secret push." One peculiarity of the language is 
the use of two opposites in conjunction to express the quality in 
which they differ — thus : distance is literally " far-near " ; weight 
is " light-heavy " ; height, to-men, is " high-low," and dang-to, 
** oold-warm," means temperature. The honorific vocabulary is 
an additional stumbling-block. For ordinary traveling pur- 
poses it is hardly necessary ; the stranger will always be pardoned 
if he prefaces his remarks with an apology for not being able to 
spcok the language of courtesy ; but as every remark will instinc- 
tively be made to him in that language in spite of his protest, he 
will find himself very little advantaged. The vocabulary of the 
Tibetan language is enormous, and it is very widely known ; such 
comparatively delicate shades of meaning as are required to ex- 
press slightly varying color shade in horses are ready in abund- 
ance, and in Tibetan a chestnut horse with a black mane can be 


described in a word. It is not, perhaps, necessary to say more 
than that there is ready for use in Tibetan a single word which 
signifies " the interdependence of causes." * 

The literature of the country is almost entirely religious. It 
consists of the Kan-gyur, or sacred scriptures, in over one hun- 
dred volumes; the Ten-gyur, or commentaries thereon, in three 
hundred volumes, and countless tomes filled with the tales, para- 
bles, biographies, and legends of the great teachers of the Lamaic 
Church. These books are wonderful things. It is not the least 
of the oddities of Tibet that in this unlettered country more beau- 
tiful books are produced than anywhere else in the world. Before 
the volume is opened, the covers alone present an example of 
beauty and loving care which Grolier could never have secured 
from the best of his binders. The outer cover is about thirty 
inches by eleven inches ; it is of hard, close-grained wood, divided 
into three panels ; each panel is carved with minute and exquisite 
workmanship. In the center of each is one, or perhaps two Bud- 
dhas seated on the lotus throne, cut in a quarter-inch relief. 
Round him, with strong and free grace, the conventional foliage 
of the Bo-tree fills the entire field, except immediately overhead, 
where the gariida bird, all beak and eyes, sits keeping watch. 
Above and below are rows of smaller images carved in exquisite 
detail. The three panels are said to refer to the three conceptions 
of the Buddha. If that be so it is the only instance of Maitreya, 
or the coming Buddha, being represented squatting tailorwise in 
the Oriental fashion.^ The whole cover is heavily gilt, and one 
turns the leaf to find a silk veil, probably of olive-green, carnation, 
and rose-madder, protecting the first page of the manuscript itself. 

* This is hardly the occasion for a full account of either the written or the 
spoken language. I may, however, in reference to the former, point out the 
difficulty of the spelling. Thus the province of " U " is spelled " DBUS " 
and "DE" (rice) is spelled "ABRAS." This is the spelHng of the first 
syllable of De-bung monastery. 

* This statement, like most statements which have long been accepted about 
things Tibetan, is probably open to correction. 


This page is made of fine stout paper, bearing in the middle what 
looks exactly like the depressed plate mark of an etching; the 
whole is of deep, rich-glazed Prussian blue, and in the inset panel 
in the middle the opening words of the book are written in large 
raised gold characters. The next page contains to the left a 
miniature, and then the book begins. From one end to the other 
it is painted in large regular letters of gold, some of the choicer 
books having alternate lines of gold and silver. Although they 
are no longer used, the holes through which the binding strap 
originally ran through the leaves themselves in two places qre 
still left clear and indicated by a thin gold circle. Cumbersome, 
of course, these books are, but the care which is bestowed upon 
them would have delighted the heart of William Morris. 

Art in Tibet is still in a conventional state. It is true that 
the technique of miniature painting upon an enormous scale has 
been thoroughly mastered by them ; and, as I have said elsewhere, 
the only parallel to the microscopic work used on the walls of 
such buildings as the Palkhor choide, or the Nachung Chos- 
kyong temple outside Lhasa, is that of the seventh and eighth 
century illuminators of the Irish school. 

A figure of Buddha in color was copied by myself from the 
wall of the dining-room at Chang-lo. The original is of life 
size and was evidently painted by one of the most capable artists 
in Tibet. I do not remember ever having seen another similar 
figure as strongly designed, minutely finished, or delicately 
colored. The use, indeed, of gold, which it is impossible ade- 
quately to reproduce, was both restrained and effective, and the 
transparent brown mastic which covers it mellows the semi- 
burnished surface. The rest of the wall was taken up with 
figures almost as carefully painted by the same hand. The dis- 
ciples of the Master stand or sit round him in varying attitudes 
bearing the symbol of their identity, while the great teachers 
of Buddhism smile blandly from the side walls dividing the 


Master from the " terrible " guardian monsters which confront 
the outer world in every Buddhist shrine. 

The general effect of a painted wall in Tibet is not dissimilar 
from that of Italian tapestries of the best period, and I am in- 
clined to think that the object of the designer in both cases is 
the same. In spite of the enormous amount of work brought 
into the smallest details of dress and the delicacy with which 
the flower work is done, I doubt whether the intention of the 
artist in either case is to produce figures to be examined by 
themselves. The general arrangement and composition of a 
Tibetan fresco is masterful. The ground is well covered, but 
never crowded; the subordination of the less important to the 
more important is never mistaken, and in the greatest as well 
as the smallest matters the symbolism is unerring and full of 
significance. But the veriest stranger might go into such painted 
courts as those of the first floor of the Palkhor choide and re- 
main perfectly contented with it merely as an almost moving 
carpet of color and light. 

Convention reigns supreme, but it does not take long for the 
most prejudiced European to realize that these golden and blue 
and red faced figures are essential to the artistic balance of the 
picture, as well as the meaning of the legend before his eyes. 
Of the color there is less to say. It is intensely strong, and 
though one rapidly realizes that it is justified in the mass, it 
is not only as open to criticism in the detail as a holiday crowd 
of natives in India, but the secret of the extraordinary har- 
monies so successfully produced remains as completely beyond 
the power of European reproduction. 

In the general arrangement for the internal decoration of an 
important room in a good house, Gautama will always be found 
in one form or another, seated either as a statue or in paint. 
The upper wall is sometimes furnished on either side with the 
close rows of pigeon-holes which serve the Tibetan for library 


shelves. At times a more realistic form of oraamentation is 
attempted, and here the limitations of the artist are plain indeed. 
The religious subjects have, in the course of centuries, had their 
treatment crystallized into a purely national style of representa- 
tion, and the moment the artist strays beyond this preserve he 
leans heavily upon the Chinese for support. Chinese perspective 
is used by them; Chinese landscape, Chinese dresses and faces 
are helplessly copied by Tibetan artists, careless of the fact that 
neither in feature, robes, nor surroundings are the two races 
alike. Once or twice I have seen a Tibetan attempt to represent 
some well-known natural feature in the country. In these cases 
it is necessary to read the description which generally accom- 
panies the object to be perfectly certain what it is intended to 

The Sinchen Lama, as has been said, caused an able artist 
to record upon the walls of his room the incidents in the lives 
of preceding reincarnations, and the story has been told of the 
strange way in which he thereby foretold his own death and of 
a pleasant proof thereby of his affection for his little dog. The 
picture is difficult to photograph, and the only picture I was 
able to take is marred, not only by the reflected light from the 
windows behind, but by the fact that it is partially concealed by 
the open door to the right, through which alone sufficient illu- 
mination could be obtained. All but the head of the dog is 
hidden. But that dog is in a way the test of art in Tibet ; there 
is apparently no conventional method of representing a dog, 
and if there had been one, it is clear that the Lama would not 
have been satisfied with it, so this man was forced face to face 
with nature as he had perhaps never been compelled before. 
The portrait of the master of the dog is a piece of pure con- 
vention, but the painting of the dog, intensely bad as it is from 
every point of view but one, remains the touchstone of Tibetan 
art. There is such a minute and laborious representation of 


every cirri of hair that one would hardly be surprised to find that 
the artist had attempted to paint both sides of the dog at once. 
Bad as it is, that picture at any rate achieves its purpose, for 
that dog is as living, as recognizable, and as pat-able an object 
as ever Briton Riviere created, and the affection of the lonely 
reincarnation, cut off from the living world from birth to death, 
for his one fearless and disinterested companion is apparent in 
every stroke of the brush. But I must confess that of all the 
acres of painted surface which I saw in Tibet this dog remains 
the only attempt to represent a subject naturally. 

At Gyantse the chief local artist received several commissions 
from us which, as I have said, were never fulfilled, but I suspect 
that a good deal of his earlier work afterward fell into the hands 
of our men at the taking of Little Gobshi. Hundreds of 
tangkas'^ were then found, but as they were of no interest or 
value in the eyes of the native troops, the vast majority of them 
were thrown on one side, and the heavy rain of the following 
night disfigured the majority almost beyond recognition. These 
tangkas are the most characteristic and portable expression of 
modem Tibetan art. It says something for their good taste 
that those which they account most highly are the plain-line 
drawings in Indian red upon a gold background, or of gold upon 
Indian red. Here the artist owes nothing to color or shade, 
and some of the work is as strong and quaint as that of the 
" Guthlac " designs in the British Museum. 

The majority of these tangkas display a large central figure 
surrounded by smaller flame- or smoke-framed pictures of the 
deities of Lamaism. These pictures often leave much to be 
desired on the score of propriety. It is one of the things which 
must be taken into consideration with regard to Lamaism that 
decency forms no part of it whatever. Immoral the Tibetan 

* A tangka is a roll painting on canvas or silk, framed in rich Chinese 
brocade, and generally resembling the kakemonos of Japan. 















religion certainly is not, but to Western eyes its manifestations 
often assume the strangest shape.^ 

Unfortunately a change has recently come over Tibetan 
draftsmanship. There is a falling away from the austere 
standard of other days, and there is a distinct tendency to- 
ward merely pretty and pink and white designs of a Chinese 
type. This is apparent not only in the coloring but in the 
choice of subject. The colors used are curious; they are un- 
doubtedly water-colors ground up with a large amount of body 
color, and stiffened with glue or some such material. They 
last indefinitely and, so far as can be guessed, the tints do 
not fade. I do not think that the names of any artists are 

The jewelry of Tibet is exquisitely finished, and in a slight 
degree suggestive of Byzantine work. I have in my possession 
several objects that will serve as examples of the finest work 
in the country. The crown came originally from the head of a 
Buddha in Ne-nyeng Monastery. Nothing can exceed the deli- 
cacy with which the figure of Buddha in carved turquoise is 
inset into the central leaf. The foliation throughout is strong, 
clean cut, and decided, and the general balance of the diadem 
will, I think, be universally admitted. It is a good specimen 
of the best Tibetan work, and the sparing use of turquoise in 
its composition is the more satisfactory because it is clear 
that neither time nor money was spared in its manufacture. 
I bought two earrings in Lhasa. They are of gold and of the 
usual design set with large pieces of turquoise. A square charm 
box was also procured in Lhasa. It is of typical design, but 
the stones and general workmanship are undoubtedly above the 
average. I also obtained two beautiful charm boxes of gold and 

*It is interesting to notice that of the two more valued kinds of tangka 
those on a gold background are always austerely chaste, while those on a red 
field leave much to be desired on the score of decency. I think that those also 
on a dark blue background should be classed with the latter kind. 


turquoise. Both workmanship and stones are of the finest class. 
The single earring touching the crown is that worn by men, 
and it is worthy of notice that the lower drop is never real tur- 
quoise. Even in the case of the highest dignitaries this pen- 
dant is invariably blue porcelain-like glass. The encircling 
necklace is of raw turquoise lumps set in silver and separated 
one from another by large coral beads. 

The brass work of the Tibetans exhibits their art in its high- 
est form. The little gods which sit in rows along the altar 
shelves of Tibet are models of good and restrained convention. 
The finish is delicate, and the sheer technical skill with which 
the artist manipulates his material is undeniable. The same 
delicate workmanship is carried also into other objects of their 
daily life or religion. Tibetans are capable of producing pottery 
of a fair quality, but it is quite beyond their powers to water- 
mark a design into the material. 

The woven stufifs of Tibet are extremely interesting, and the 
patterns are indigenous. I have elsewhere suggested that in 
rugs alone a thriving and successful trade might be carried on 
with the neighborhood of Gyantse. Most of their silks are 
imported from China. It may fairly be said that nothing manu- 
factured in Tibet is positively ugly, and though the hierocratic 
tendencies which have checked the political independence of the 
people of the country have also tended to confine its artists within 
narrow channels, the very stiffness of the style has not been with- 
out its definite use in educating the natural taste of the people. 
The blaze of color inside a Tibetan gompa might be thought 
garish by a student of the half tones of Europe, but it must 
be remembered that in this land of thin pure air and blinding 
light, harmonies and discords are to be judged by other stan- 
dards than those of Europe. 

Of the music of Tibet it is impossible to say much. The tem- 
ple services are intoned on three or four notes, which, I should 
say, approximate fairly well to those of our own scale. But 



the Tibetans have not reached the stage at which noise ceases 
to be the first aim of the musician. By this I do not neces- 
sarily mean that the noise is always an ugly one. The sound, 
heard a mile away across the plain, of a temple gong beaten, 
or the long seductive purr of a well-blown conch, comes into the 
pictures of one's memory as not their least attractive feature. 
But heard close at hand the music of Tibet is merely barbarous. 
The temple orchestra usually consists of seven men; two of 
them are occupied with one of the big trumpets, one to hold it up, 
the other to blow it. These trumpets furnish a grating noise 
approximating in depth to the length of the instrument. As 
this is anything up to twelve, or, in the case of one trumpet 
in Potala, eighteen feet, the note produced is low. Two other 
men blow as seemeth good to them upon shorter trumpets, one 
about four feet in length, the other a small sixteen-inch instru- 
ment, generally made out of a human thigh-bone with copper 
end pieces. Two men also will devote themselves to gyalings; 
these are short reed-blown clarinets. The last and most im- 
portant member of all is he who beats the drum. The drum is a 
kind of warming-pan-like structure, and the parchment of its 
three-foot head is struck with a sickle-shaped stick. By a con- 
vention, which is like that of Europe, the drummer manages the 
cyrhbals also. Powerful instruments these are, taking unques- 
tioned command of the babel whenever used. 

Besides all these the officiating Lama will from time to time 
ring a sweet silvery-toned bell at, no doubt, the accurate inter- 
vals, but it must be confessed that the general effect of a Tibetan 
service is not unlike that of a farm yard, or a nursery, and 
it may still be many years indeed before order is given to these 
sounds confused. One or two tunes they have which can be 
recognized. One of them is par excellence the melody of the 
Orient. I do not know if it has a name, but Mrs. Flora Annie 
Steel has sufficiently indicated its scope and cadence by wedding 
to it the words, " Twinkle, twinkle, little star." 


The marriage customs of Tibet are like those of the vast 
majority of mankind— the lady is bought. But one feature in 
the preliminaries differentiates them strongly from the methods 
of modern England. The girl's mother will firmly and re- 
peatedly insist upon the ugliness and uselessness of her debu- 
tante whenever a suggestion is made by the professional match- 
maker of the village. This modesty, however, can be overcome 
by a little -negotiation. Groomsmen and bridesmaids are, I 
believe, as necessary to a smart wedding in Tibet as in America, 
and, if Chandra Das is to be believed, the difficulty of knowing 
whether a wedding present is expected or not' is overcome in 
Lhasa by a simple device. The maiden presents a cheap little 
katag or scarf to every one from whom she would like a wed- 
ding gift. There is a slight religious service at the actual mar- 
riage. The officiating lama, after prayer, declares the woman 
to be from henceforth the bride of her husband alone — and his 
brothers. The usual Oriental overeating accompanies the rite. 
Divorce in Tibet is expensive, but easily obtained, though the 
necessity for any such annulment of the marriage tie is greatly 
reduced by the frequency of " Meredithian " marriages. 

In private life the Tibetan is a cheerful body with, of course, 
the defects of that amiable quality. Not infrequently he gets 
drunk and he has at no time many morals. But he is a hard 
worker, capable of enduring for weeks extremes of physical dis- 
comfort which would incapacitate a native of India in a day, 
and, above all, it must be set down to his credit that he is mer- 
ciful to his beast. The tail-twisting of bullocks stops at our 
frontier. He has, of course, no nerves, or it is possible that the 
dogs which swarm over the country and form one of its most 
prominent features would fare badly even at the hands of a 

They are an unmitigated nuisance, savage by day and noisy 
by night. Every breed of dog known to the fancier seems to 


have been mixed in this sandy-coated pack. It is curious, how- 
ever, that in spite of the out-of-door life which is led by them, 
the type to which they have reverted is not that of the wolf 
or collie, but rather that of the Esquimaux sledge dog. Some 
of them are easily domesticated, and the puppies are friendly 
little things only too anxious to be adopted. The typical Tibetan 
terrier, a long-coated little fellow with a sharp nose, prick ears, 
and, as a rule, black from muzzle to tail, we found but seldom 
in a pure state.* 

^The finest specimens of this breed are owned by Mrs. Claude White — 
"Tippoo," " Jugri," and scantily coated " Nari " came up with us to Lhasa 
with their master. But " Sebu," a sable freak in the same family, and beyond 
question the most beautiful of them all, remained at Gangtok. 



BEFORE taking up again the story of the Expedition I 
propose to sketch the internal affairs of Lhasa for the last 
few years with somewhat greater detail than before. The key 
to the situation in Tibet, which was now becoming desperate, is 
to be found in the deliberate and steady determination of the 
Tibetans to do away with the Chinese suzerainty. This is a 
policy of long standing. Thirty-five years ago the spirit of in- 
dependence was already abroad in Tibet, and there was a recog- 
nized progressive party, headed by no less ^a dignitary than the 
treasurer of Gaden monastery. Under the old regime, as is well 
known, a consistent policy of regency, made possible only by the 
equally systematic assassination of each successive young Grand 
Lama before he reached the age of eighteen, resulted in a contin- 
ual regency, and therefore also a continual opportunity for the as- 
sertion and reassertion of the Chinese suzerainty, for no regent 
could be appointed without the sanction of the Chinese Emperor. 
The very election of the Dalai Lama himself was theoretically 
subject to the approval of Peking, but this prerogative was sel- 
dom, or never, exercised. In other parts of his dominions the 
Chinese Emperor made undoubted use of his rights. At Urga, a 
new Taranath Grand Lama, the third in importance in the Bud- 
dhist world, was, on one occasion, peremptorily disqualified by his 
majesty on the grounds that his immediate predecessor had been 
a turbulent and seditious fellow, and that there was no good 
ground for supposing that he had been reincarnated in any 



human being. Against this the good people of MongoHa entered 
a violent protest. They said that such a contention cut at the 
root of their religion, and so much trouble did they give that 
eventually the Emperor compromised ; he said that as the monks 
of Urga had chosen a Mongolian to be their chief he would 
allow the election to stand, but that on no account thencefor- 
ward was a reincarnation to take place in the body of a Tibetan. 
The descent of the spirit is thus regulated to-day. Again it is 
necessary to remind the European reader with a sense of hu- 
mor that these apparent absurdities are the source of very real 
and often very bitter political feeling in the Far East, and that 
the application of European habits of thought to these circum- 
stances can only result in a total misapprehension of the whole 
situation. The Tibetans see no absurdity in situations thus cre- 
ated at a time when in other ways their national aspirations were 
shaping a shrewd and Occidental policy. 

The leader of the party died indeed before achieving success, 
but it is worth notice that in the election of the present Dalai 
Lama, in 1874, a change directly attributable to the dead re- 
former's personality was made in the devolution of the spirit 
of Avalokiteswara. In the old days the names of all babies born 
at the time of the assassination of the previous Dalai Lama were 
written on slips and put into a golden urn, which, it is reported, 
levitated itself and thrice cast forth the slip of paper bearing 
the name of the chosen child. This miracle is supposed to have 
been somewhat assisted by the writing of the same name upon 
every slip, and it was to guard against any such political manipu- 
lation of this all-important choice that a new plan of selection 
was then adopted. Acting upon the counsels of the chief ma- 
gician of Nachung choskyong, the discovery of the new Dalai 
Lama was intrusted to the pious clairvoyance of the Shar-tse 
Abbot of Gaden. This man, acting upon instructions, went to 
the Chos-kor Plain, to the east of Lhasa, and there on the surface 


of the Muli-ding-ki lake the new reincarnation was seen in his 
mother's lap upon a lotus flower. After a brief search for 
mother and child, Tubdan Gyatso, the present pontiff, was 
c found at Paru-chude in the district of Tag-po. This method 
of choosing a successor to the divine authority checkmated the 
ordinary intrigues by which family influence as well as official 
guardianship secured to the Chinese suzerain no small voice in 
the acts of the doomed child's government. The last regent, 
as has been said, was chosen from Gaden, though he also had 
some connection with the Kun-de-ling in Lhasa.* 

Eighteen years afterward, when, under other circumstances, 
his life would have been brought to a sudden conclusion, Tub- 
dan Gyatso was spared. This has been attributed by some to 
the unrest prevailing during our troubles with India at that time ; 
the treaty was then actually in process of construction in Cal- 
cutta, and it is very likely that the recent war with ourselves 
had suggested to the shrewder Tibetans that the time had come 
finally to take their affairs into their own hands. China had 
been of no use to them in their dispute with India, and to have 
" reincarnated " the Dalai Lama at that moment meant a repe- 
tition of the usual opportunity for the exertion of Chinese in- 
fluence which would have been peculiarly inopportune and even 
disastrous. He was therefore allowed to survive maturity, 
but only as a religious pontiff, the temporal power remaining 
in the hands of the regent. But as soon as the treaty was signed 
the last vestige of Chinese influence in Tibet was thrown off by 
a coup d'etat, in 1895, strangely resembling that of King Alex- 
ander of Servia under similar circumstances : Tubdan Gyatso de- 
clared himself temporal sovereign as well as religious autocrat, 
cast the regent into prison, and poisoned him almost immediately. 

^ It is impossible to obtain very accurate information upon a point like this. 
A Tibetan has his ' ' La-lis ' ' out of his mouth before a name is even men- 


Such was the position in 1901. There were at this time three 
important men in Lhasa : the Dalai Lama, Dorjieff, and the " Pre- 
mier " — the Shata Shape.* The last of the triumvirate was a 
man who had been brought into prominence some years ago by 
an unfortunate incident in Darjeeling, The story is well known : 
a Tibetan was ducked in the fountain for insolence displayed by 
him or by one of his countrymen toward an Englishwoman in 
a rickshaw. The man's rudeness did not, perhaps, justify so 
drastic a punishment, but it was not altogether unnatural, and 
it was our misfortune rather than our fault that we thus in- 
curred the perpetual and bitter hatred of the man, who, in the 
course of a few years, was destined to become prime minister of 
Tibet; for the victim was no other than the Shata Shape, then 
exiled and under a temporary cloud. He never forgot or for- 
gave, and it is not surprising that when the opportunity pre- 
sented itself he flung himself heart and soul into the change of 
policy advocated by Dorjieff. Sufficient reference has already 
been made to the career of Dorjieff; of the Dalai Lama, we only 
know from Chinese sources that he is a headstrong and some- 
what conceited man, not without strength of character, but in- 
tolerant of restraint in any form. Physically he is a tall and 
powerfully built man with unusually oblique eyes. 

Opposed to them stood the various representatives and dele- 
gates of the ruling priestly caste, greatly swayed by the tradi- 
tional respect and homage which the Grand Lama's position 
inspires in the least dutiful of his subjects, but stubbornly refus- 
ing to depart from their ancient principles and the policy of 
seclusion which had stood Tibet and themselves in good stead 
for so long. In all else the Dalai Lama was able to have his way, 
but neither the introduction of a Russian protectorate, nor the 
presence of Russian representatives in Lhasa, would the Tsong-du 
tolerate in any form whatever, or for an instant. To neither side 
* He is also known as Shaffi Phen-tso Dorje. 


were the claims or the opinions of the Chinese of the shghtest 
moment. The return of Dorjieff in December with the unoffi- 
cial understanding between Russia and Tibet was, therefore, the 
inauguration of a difficult period for the Dalai Lama. 

The existence of this understanding was a fact that he could 
neither openly avow nor, on the other hand, entirely conceal. 
The solemn anti-foreigner covenant, signed by the Tsong-du, 
was obstinately pleaded by the opposition and nothing could be 
done. The Dalai Lama changed his methods. Not for a moment 
did he abandon the policy which promised to secure for himself 
and for his country the apparently gratuitous protettion of 
Russia and freedom from the ever-present dread of the English ; 
and he did not attempt to conceal his not unnatural dislike for the 
short-sighted policy of the Tsong-du, by which he now found 
himself as much thwarted as by any possible interference of 
China. But in their existing mood it was impossible to coerce 
the members of the National Council, so for the future he de- 
termined to use the wide powers he was able to wield without 
1 reference to it, and he believed that their scope was extensive 
enough to carry through his matured Russophile policy, not so 
much by the deliberate choice of the Tsong-du, as of necessity, 
and he set himself determinedly to bring about that necessity. 
This was no easy task. There was no trouble then with India, 
and the self-confident Tibetans attached small value to any in- 
ducements that Russia could hold out. Tibet had succeeded easily 
in regaining her independence of China, and could conceive no 
reason for putting herself again under obligation to any man. 
But with shrewder foresight the Dalai Lama saw that some such 
protection from the north or from the south was ultimately in- 
evitable. He chose to make a truce with Russia. Apart from 
the practical inducements offered by Dorjieff, it must be remem- 
bered in his choice of an ally that he was acting upon a principle 
well known in the East. Long before his days the worn out 


shoes and moldy bread of the men of Gibeon had persuaded 
Joshua that it was safe to make a treaty of peace with so distant 
a tribe. The moral effect of an alliance with either was, as he 
knew well, a guarantee for the non-interference of the other. 
Now India is but a fortnight away, while Russia, by the quick- 
est route, is full four months' journey distant. 

So soon, therefore, as he could make the Tsong-du recognize 
the necessity for outside support, he knew that the assistance of 
Russia, as being the more distant friend, would, as a matter of 
course, be preferred by it to the traditional and imminent men- 
ace of Indian influence. He set himself to bring this recognition 
about, and it was clear that if friction could in some way be 
established in his relations with India, he would have gone far 
toward obtaining his end. In achieving his purpose, he had 
neither scruples nor difficulty. Reference has been made before 
to the policy of aggression he adopted, but the acts may be briefly 
recapitulated here. The frontier regulations of Sikkim were 
violated in a flagrant manner ; the grazing rights near Giao-gong 
were encroached upon in a way which he was well aware we 
could not much longer suffer. A customs house and a barrier 
were actually erected and occupied, and British subjects kept 
out by force from a small portion of the British Empire. Even- 
tually the arrival of a letter from Lord Curzon, in the middle 
of 1902, offered him an opportunity he was not slow to use. The 
letter was returned unopened, without apology or comment of 
any kind. Such, it will be remembered, was the situation imme- 
diately before the arrival of the Mission at Kamba-jong. 

Under this new regime the Tsong-du were little consulted. 
It was Tubdan's intention to use them afterward, but rather 
for the mere purpose of ratifying an inevitable policy than of 
asking them their opinion upon its wisdom. No definite infor- 
mation of their attitude seems to have been sent to Russia. 
Rifles were from time to time received and stored at Norbu-ling 


under the Dalai Lama's personal supervision, and Dorjieff con- 
tinued to distribute small but valuable European-made gifts 
among the leading men of Lhasa. The action of the Indian 
government in sending Mr. Claude White to enforce the rights 
of the Sikkimese over their grazing grounds was interpreted by 
the Grand Lama as an act of overt hostility, and was used to 
hasten the catastrophe — all the more readily, perhaps, because 
of the repeated warnings of the old Amban Yu-kang that the 
Tibetan policy with regard to the English was both foolish and 
ultra vires: his protests were, however, consistently and inso- 
lently ignored. At last, however, it seems that the Shata Shape 
recoiled before the lengths to which the Dalai Lama, now utterly 
in the toils of Dorjieff, was prepared to go. The exact circum- 
stances of their quarrel are not known, but it is clear that in 
1903 the Shata Shape was deposed from office and thrown into 
prison; where, I believe, the unfortunate man remains. The 
story of this incident is not without interest. 

We get glimpses of the internal affairs of Lhasa about this 
time, which reveal sufficiently clearly the chaos which was then 
reigning. To any demur on the part of his colleagues in the 
government, the Dalai Lama opposed ill temper instead of ar- 
gument, and soon made the unfortunate discovery that the slight- 
est threat of resignation from temporal affairs — which one might 
have supposed to be no unwelcome idea to his harassed colleagues 
— speedily reduced the most insubordinate member of the 
Tsong-du to submissiveness. 

But the dissatisfaction of Tibet with the Russophile tenden- 
cies of the Grand Lama could not thus be checked, and the co- 
operation of England and China in the advance of the Mission 
to Kamba-jong was a rebuff for the Grand Lama that could not 
be misinterpreted. The great astrologer of Tibet, the Lama of 
Re-ting, was asked about this time to interpose the influence of 
the stars against the encroachment of the British. It is remark- 




able that in his answer he makes the definite charge that the 
troubles from which Tibet was suffering were due to the fact 
that bribes of European money had been unlawfully accepted 
by Tibetan officials. 

On the 3d or 4th of October, it was asserted that 150 Russian 
rifles * were brought to the Potala by Dorjieff. At this time the 
latter's influence reached its highest point, and it was regretfully 
admitted in Lhasa that even the Shapes themselves were obliged 
to curry favor with him to get anything done or even listened 
to by the Dalai Lama. About this time, owing to the direct 
intervention of Dorjieff, the Dalai Lama took the arbitrary 
and high-handed step to which we have referred. On the 13th 
of October he sent for and imprisoned at Norbu-ling the four 
ministers of state and the representatives of the Three Monas- 
teries. He accused the Shata Shape of having taken bribes ; the 
other members were charged with having concealed from the 
Dalai Lama important facts connected with the boundary dis- 
pute, with having taken money from Ugyen Kazi ^ on the occa- 
sion of the presentation of an elephant, with being behindhand 
in their biennial reports, and, in general, with disobedience to his 
Holiness, and with attempting to carry on the business of the 
country contrary to his intentions and orders. In order to carry 
through this coup-de-main, he once again threatened to resign 
and adopt the meditative life unless his action were indorsed. 

He was completely successful. 

* It was believed in Lhasa that weapons were continually arriving in camel 
loads, bnt it is more probable that they were barrels only. The Tip arsenal 
across the river was working at high pressure, and even during our brief ex- 
perience of Tibetan munitions of war it was possible to observe a very distinct 
improvement in the manufactured cartridges; the rifles here made consisted, 
as a rule, of a local Martini lock adjusted somewhat carelessly to an old Euro- 
pean-made barrel of some discarded pattern. 

* Ugyen Kazi, horsedealer and diplomatist, is the most conspicuous figure 
on the Tibetan frontier. He was used by the Indian Government in 1902 as 
the bearer of the letters to the Dalai Lama which were returned unopened to 
Lord Curzon. A commanding presence and a quick humor also has this man, 
who might use Elizabeth's scratching on the Hatfield window for his motto. 


Almost the last act of these unhappy men was a refusal to 
attend the annual review on the plain between Sera and Lhasa 
on the day when the Emperor of China is customarily saluted 
by obeisance made toward the east. It is probable that they 
refused to attend this yearly ceremony in order to avoid offend- 
ing either the Emperor or the Dalai Lama, either by abandoning 
or persisting in the old custom which the latter seems now to 
have forbidden for the future, and it is not without significance 
that, in order to save themselves from internal treachery, the 
four deposed Shapes had bound themselves by an oath to stand 
or fall together. 

The points were put upon the i's of the situation by a remark 
of the Amban's about this time that even if ambassadors were 
sent to meet the British at any point, and even if they succeeded 
in coming to an agreement, the Tsong-du would refuse to ratify 
the treaty. Of the four Shapes or Kalons, the monk official 
Te-kang, the Shata Shape, and Sho-kang were the more respon- 
sible and respectable officers ; the last, by name Hor-kang, a man 
of somewhat weak character, who had been in office but four 
months, committed suicide almost immediately in terror. Their 
places were taken by the Ta Lama as ecclesiastical member, the 
head of the house of Yutok, the Tsarong Depen, and the Tse- 
chung Shape; none of them, with the exception of the Yutok 
Shape, of any social position or strength of mind. 

The Ta Lama, whom we repeatedly met at one time or an- 
other, was a gentlemanlike old priest, verging on his second 
childhood and incapable of keeping his attention fixed on any 
subject for more than a minute or so at a time. The Yutok 
Shape was a phlegmatic fatalist who seemed fully aware of the 
impossibility of doing anything fof his country with the scanty 
authority he possessed. The other two were negligible quan- 
tities and were clearly appointed for the sole purpose of allow- 
ing a freer hand to the Dalai Lama's personal eccentricities. 

The chief executive member of the hierarchy under the Dalai Lama 


With this ramshackle government the affairs of Tibet were car- 
ried on; every now and then the Amban, who had already re- 
ceived notice of his dismissal, tried, in a weak manner, to settle 
the matter by a personal appeal to the Grand Lama or the Tsong- 
du, but the treatment of the Mission at Kamba-jong is witness 
enough to the small importance that was attached to Chinese 
representations at this period. In December, 1903, the Shapes, 
by instruction of the Dalai Lama, definitely refused transport 
to the Amban. This, by preventing his approaching Colonel 
Younghusband, was tantamount to an active refusal to allow 
China to interfere in any way. It was the last straw ; he angrily 
demanded that their refusal to obey the orders of the Chinese 
Emperor should be set down in writing. It was probably some- 
what to his surprise that the Dalai Lama instantly acquiesced and 
assumed full responsibility for the action. Tibet had decided 
to act as an independent kingdom, and as soon as the gauntlet 
had been thrown down, troops were moved out from Lhasa along 
the southern road to Phari. Yu-kang then rather weakly offered 
to pay his own transport expenses, but this was as steadily re- 
fused as before. For some time now the Amban had been unable 
to obtain an answer from the Dalai Lama even to questions 
wholly unconnected with the dispute with ourselves; from this 
moment he was an insignificant and ultimately a disgraced man. 
The arrival of the new Amban, Yu-tai, was about this time an- 
nounced from Chyando, and Yu-kang made his preparations to 
return. His degradation was no loss to us. He had been acting 
upon the confidential orders of Yung-lu for many years and un- 
doubtedly supported the Tibetans in their refusal to negotiate 
with the English, relying upon assurances received from Yung-lu 
that Lhasa would be occupied by Russian troops in the spring 
of 1903. This corroborates Dorjieff's boast, and our minister in 
Peking obtained from Prince Ching an admission that he had 
heard the report. Nor when pressed did the Russian minister in 


Peking deny that there was a certain rapprochement " on religious 
grounds " ; but Yung-lu's death shortly afterward and the first 
rumblings of the Japanese war cloud effectually held the hand of 
Russia. The Dalai Lama therefore found himself in the posi- 
tion of having paved the way for advances on Russia's part from 
which nothing was to be expected, while from our side he could 
only await that demand for satisfaction and a clearer understand- 
ing which he had himself deliberately provoked. 

By this time even the pious citizens of Lhasa were grumbling 
against their divine ruler. They whispered that the Potala Lama, 
as he is not infrequently called in Lhasa, after having murdered 
the regent of Tibet and imprisoned the Shapes, was about to con^- 
summate his folly by losing the country itself as well. The wild- 
est confusion prevailed in official circles ; no man trusted his near- 
est friend ; the Amban, trying perhaps to retrieve his credit at the 
last moment, appears now and then in a whirl of fussy and impo- 
tent ill temper, making demands that his master must be obeyed, 
that transport must be provided for him, that the La-chung men 
must be released at once.^ No one paid him the slightest atten- 
tion, and at last he seems to have subsided upon receipt of an un- 
pleasant communication from Peking, intimating that his punish- 
ment would be decided upon after he had returned ; and this is the 
end of Yu-kang. 

Meanwhile the new Amban was slowly making his progress 
toward Lhasa. He had started in November, 1902, and fifteen 
months seems an inordinate time for even a Chinese official to take 
in covering the distance which separates Lhasa from Peking. He 

* Two men from Sikkim had been caught by the Tibetans and detained by 
them during our stay at Kamba-jong. It was almost universally reported that 
they had been tortured and put to death in Shigatse, but on our arrival in 
Lhasa they were found to be still in prison there, and on the 17th of August 
Colonel Younghusband had them released. This incident at one time seemed 
likely to give rise to serious complications, but thus it ended happily, and the 
men themselves made no charge of brutality against their Tibetan jailers. 


had asked for an escort of 2,000 men to accompany him, but 
as a matter of fact he found it difficult to provide for the needs 
of the bare hundred whom he was allowed to take. He had been 
selected for the post because he was the brother of Sheng-tai who 
had concluded the unfortunate treaty of 1890, and it was re- 
garded as only fitting and just by the Oriental mind that the 
harm done by one member of a family should be rectified by an- 
other. On his way he met Mr. Nicholls, an American, at Ta- 
chien-lu, the frontier city, where he seems to have spent some 
time in extracting money from the Chinese prefect and the Tib- 
etan *' gyalpo " alike. He seems to have asserted his intention 
of restoring Chinese authority, and he admitted no sympathy with 
the Tibetan desire for seclusion, arguing that if Sze-chuan was 
open to foreigners there could be no reason why the pretensions 
of the Tibetans should ^be permitted for a moment. He moved 
on to Batang for the same dubious purposes .that had detained 
him at Ta-chien-lu.^ 

On the 1 2th of February, the belated official reached Lhasa and 
assumed the reins of government. Later in the same month Dor- 
jieff's influence began to wane. The intrigues with Russia had 
been overdone and were the common talk of the town. It was 
' known and widely resented that the Dalai Lama had sent back to 
St. Petersburg a Buriat who had come to Dorjieff, bringing with 
him a large sum of money. Moreover, the new Amban, whatever 
his moral deficiencies, had at least some energy at first. He tried 
to carry things with a high hand, and one of his first actions was 
severely to censure the inaction of a Chinese representative, who 
had been ordered south to confer with Younghusband ; he seems 
also to have given our Kamba-jong acquaintance, Ho, a bad 

* Mr. Nicholls notes that at this place the hair and scraps of the finger-nails 
of the Dalai Lama were sold at enormous prices in the market, and Mr. Wil- 
ton tells me that there is a constant demand in Peking for scraps, however 
dirty, of his Holiness' clothing, and even more repulsive relics of the great 


quarter of an hour on the ground that he had misappropriated 
Government money. A week after his arrival he made an official 
visit to the Dalai Lama, and for three hours attempted to bring 
him to reason ; it was not, however, of much use, and on his return 
to the Residency the Amban set himself to the re-organization and 
reform of the military arrangements in Tibet so far as the Chinese 
soldiery was concerned. On one point at least he failed as com- 
pletely as his predecessor; he, too, first requested and finally de- 
manded that he should be allowed transport to go to Tuna to meet 
Younghusband, or Yun-hai-phun, as they transliterated the name. 
This the Dalai Lama courteously but firmly refused. At a sub- 
sequent visit the Amban seems to have moderated his tone, but to 
no effect ; the Dalai Lama again cheerfully accepted the responsi- 
bility for every obstacle that was placed in the way of the Am- 
ban's intended journey, and refused to permit the strengthening 
of the Chinese garrisons at the frontier and in Lhasa, The mood 
of the Tibetans at this period was anything but conciliatory. The • 
Tongsa Penlop, who had written offering his services as mediator 
once again, was told that only after a retreat to Yatung and pay- 
ment of damages for our trespass at Phari would the question 
of negotiation be opened. 

But the display of temper was not confined to officials. About 
this time levies from the province of Kams were called up, but 
they refused to come, alleging that no proper rations had been 
served out to them; a promise of proper supplies (which, by the 
way, was never performed) induced them to send about a thou- 
sand men for the defense of Lhasa, but in other parts of the coun- 
try the demands of the Dalai Lama were met with a blank refusal. 
Upon the top of this came the news of the disaster at Guru and 
of our occupation of Gyantse jong. The discontent redoubled. 
Dorjieff felt that, now or never, the time was come for action if 
he wished to save his life. He seems to have argued to himself 
that if a successful attack could be made upon the small British 


garrison at Chang-lo, time would be gained and his policy justi- 
fied, for the moment at least. On the other hand, if such an at- 
tack were unsuccessful his own liberty and even his own life 
would be in danger ; he therefore planned and ordered the attack 
on the Mission post on May 5th, and straightway fled the coun- 
try, posting north along the Sining highway, and ultimately 
branching off along the Urga road.* 

About this time the Tsarong Depen asked that troops should 
be sent to Nagartse to oppose the advance of the British troops. 
He especially objected, it is said, to the English habit of taking 
photographs. The Paro Penlop in Bhutan was stealthily ap- 
proached by the Dalai Lama at the same time with the object of 
inducing the Bhutanese, in the absence of the Tongsa Penlop, to 
destroy the British lines of communication,^ and a second mes- 
senger was sent in haste to Russia as the former envoy had not 

High ofilicials now began to talk among themselves almost 
without concealment of the foolishness of the Dalai Lama, but 
no one dared to say much to him. The news that Russia was get- 
ting the worst of it in Korea had reached Tibet. A report of the 
fight on the Karo la was received with consternation in Lhasa, 
but the Grand Lama merely observed that it was time to send 
forward the Golden Army ^ and, if necessary, all the male inhabi- 
tants of Lhasa also. The rumor that Gyantse jong had been 
retaken and the British garrison there exterminated to a man 
helped to restore public confidence a little, and about the same 
time a letter of sympathy came from Bhutan causing dispropor- 
tionate satisfaction. It is significant that the Chinese Amban re- 

^ Rumors of a subsequent meeting between himself and the Dalai Lama have 
as yet no confirmation, but it is not improbable that at Urga or some similar 
place the two men have since met. 

' The Paro Penlop ranks second, and consistently opposed the Anglophile 
tendencies of the Tongsa Penlop. He is, however, now discredited. 

' This is the monkish reserve which supplies a personal escort to the Dalai 
Lama. It is often loosely used to describe the fighting lamas as a whole. 


fused to believe in the killing of even a couple of Chinese at Dzara 
during the Karo la fight, pointing out that the English had not 
killed one of his countrymen throughout the expedition, and 
bluntly declaring his belief that these two had been assassinated 
there by Tibetans. 

Such, then, was the position until the middle of July, when the 
Dalai Lama heard that Gyantse Jong had been again recaptured 
and that the English were on the point of starting for Lhasa. He 
lost no time. Disguised in the plain dirty crimson of a common 
monk the mortal body of Tubdan Gyatso fled away from his an- 
cient residence and hallowed cathedral in Lhasa, carrying within 
him the incarnate soul of Avalokiteswara. He set his golden 
feet along the Nakchu-ka road and never looked back till he was 
eight days' journey from the capital. With him went the Chief 
Magician, he who many years ago had helped to place Tubdan 
upon the throne, and in later years had foretold only too truly 
that the " year of the wood dragon " (i.e., 1904) would spell dis- 
aster for Tibet. These two men at the present moment are at 
Urga, where a religious jehad is being organized, and it is quite 
clear that no finality in our relations with Tibet can be secured 
until they are persuaded of the foolishness of opposing the rights 
of India, or until, as is far more likely, they have been quietly 
put out of the way by the hierarchs whose ancient regime they 
have so rudely offended. 

As to the negotiations which we had so far vainly endeavored 
to begin, it should be remembered that the terms which Colonel 
Younghusband was instructed to demand from the Tibetans were 
in themselves neither burdensome nor indeed as heavy as we had 
a right to demand. Briefly stated, they included a demand that 
the frontier should be rectified, that an indemnity should be paid 
of an amount and in a manner to be subsequently decided, that 
foreign political influence should be totally excluded from Tibet, 
and that no concessions for mines, railways, or telegraphs should 


be granted without the knowledge and the assent of the Indian 
Government. Trade markets were to be estabhshed at Gyantse 
and Gartok, a place far on the road from Shigatse to Leh, and 
another clause permitted trade from India to pass freely along 
any existing highway of commerce. A Resident in Gyantse was 
to be appointed, but no representative of British interests, po- 
litical or commercial, was to be posted at Lhasa, As a guar- 
antee for the payment of the indemnity the Chumbi Valley 
was to be occupied by the British. The suzerainty of the 
Chinese was frankly recognized throughout the document, and 
it need hardly be said that Russia was not referred to. Colo- 
nel Younghusband had frankly expressed his opinion that it 
would be cheaper and more effectual in the long run to have 
a Resident in Lhasa, and if the Government had not com- 
mitted themselves to an opposite policy by their promises to Rus- 
sia it is possible that this suggestion, which to some extent 
commended itself to Lord Curzon also, might have been adopted. 
We shall see later the actual course of negotiations and the form 
which this treaty eventually assumed. For the moment it is only 
necessary to remember that Lord Curzon's absence from India on 
leave from the end of April to the beginning of December placed 
him somewhat at a disadvantage. He has, however, in the fullest 
manner, acknowledged his indebtedness to Lord Ampthill, Gov- 
ernor of Madras and acting Viceroy of India during Lord Cur- 
zon's furlough, for the steady way in which the policy, which had 
been begun and shaped by himself, was consistently pressed for- 
ward by his successor. The latter, who was thus in office during 
the actual advance to Lhasa and the signing of the treaty, is a 
man of capacity far beyond his years. Difficult as his position 
was — and the difficulty was added to by the ultimate uncertainty 
prevailing as to the length of his tenure of office* — it was uni- 

*Lord Curzon's return to India was indefinitely delayed owing to Lady 
Curzon's sudden illness. She had been ailing for some time. On the 2ist of 


versally recognized that he had dealt with a new and increasingly 
difficult situation with firmness and restraint, and the Home Gov- 
ernment regarded themselves as under a deep obligation to him. 

One advantage of the sending of the expedition has been, as 
Lord Curzon is probably very well aware, that public attention has 
now been definitely drawn to a matter which had been allowed to 
be shelved almost too long. However much some of the less re- 
sponsible members of the Opposition in England may regret it, 
it cannot again seriously be contended by them that our position 
on the northern frontier of India was this time safe. I have re- 
ferred to the warnings that reached Lord Curzon of the gradual 
insinuation of Russian influence at Lhasa, and the expedition 
proved conclusively that those rumors considerably underesti- 
mated the importance of the occasion. There is no reason in the 
world why Russia should not obtain a predominating influence in 
Lhasa except the plain one that it is incompatible with our own 
clearly recognized interests. If such a consideration is held not 
to have justified the sending of the Mission, there is little more 
to be said, but to those who recognize the importance of safe- 
guarding our Indian frontiers without possibility of mistake, a 
few more considerations as to the policy to be observed in the fu- 
ture with regard to Tibet may here be offered. 

To begin with, we have discovered for the first time the true 
nature of southern Tibet. It is far from resembling the dreary 
waterless deserts of the north, so well described by Sven Hedin 
and others, and it must also be admitted that it in no way sub- 
stantiates the impression left upon the mind by the reports sent 
in by the secret surveyors. Apart from the fact that the native 

September she developed peritonitis of an aggravated and complicated kind. 
For three weeks she lay in Walmer Castle between life and death, and few 
indeed of those who watched the struggle day by day had any hopes that she 
could ^ultimately throw off the disease. However, to the sincere relief of 
every one who had at heart the best interests of India, Lord Curzon, on the 24th 
of November, was able to leave her to continue her convalescence at Highcliflfe, 
and returned to take up the threads of his work at Calcutta. 


of India has no eye for the beauties of nature, and would as soon 
make a day's journey across a desert as a park, it must be remem- 
bered that the very manner in which these invaluable men were 
obliged to carry out their work precluded the possibility of much 
observation. To go on walking from day to day, intent only 
upon counting every footfall and faithfully registering the hun- 
dreds and the thousands upon a Tibetan rosary, naturally debars 
a traveler from such observations as would have suggested to the 
Indian authorities both the stored-up and the potential wealth 
of the great alluvial river-flats of southern Tibet. 

I do not know that there are many feats in the world of adven- 
ture, endurance, and pluck that will compare favorably with that 
of the Indian native intrusted with the work of secret exploration 
in Tibet. In the first place it must be remembered that to secure 
the brains necessary for the work a class of native has to be em- 
ployed which, by tradition at least, is not the pluckiest in the 
peninsula. The wonder therefore is doubled when one remembers 
the splendid work of such men as Krishna (better known as 
A.K.) or Kintup (K.P.), for the moral courage needed to persist 
in an enterprise like this can hardly be overestimated. The men 
employed are of necessity entirely without companions and with- 
out resources ; they are engaged upon one of the most hazardous 
occupations that remain in the world, that of a spy in a barbarous 
country, and should they fail for one minute in all those months 
and years of exile, they know that no mercy will be extended to 
them ; and I think it but fair to add that not one of them would 
in any emergency betray the Government whose servant he is. 
There is a known case of a man who actually consented to be be- 
trayed by his colleague as a spy in order that one at least of the 
two might be able to escape and bring back to India the priceless 
notes and calculations collected during a year of travel. For 
three years Kintup was sold into slavery and endured it without 


But this is not all ; a life of exploration, apart from the dangers 
and hardships of it, is one of unremitting toil ; the mere physical 
endurance needed to travel in this brain-benumbing way, count- 
ing each step, hardly daring to raise the eyes from the track at 
one's feet lest a number should be missed, or lest suspicion should 
be aroused, is incredible. One man measured the length of the 
Ling-kor, the road round Lhasa, by counting the prostrations 
necessary, afterward solemnly repeating the whole process over a 
measured mile. Another man is known to have traveled 2,500 
miles, counting every footstep over mountain ranges. Atma Ram 
did the same thing in one of Captain Bower's expeditions for a 
distance of 2,080 miles. Nain Singh counted his steps from Leh 
to Assam — look at it on the map. When the story of Asian explo- 
ration is finally and worthily written, the work of these lonely 
spies, twirling incessantly within their wheels rolls of blank paper 
instead of prayers, which are laboriously and minutely filled up 
night after night with the day's observation, must receive a place 
of honor second to none. Hurree Chunder Mookerjee in " Kim '* 
is a character drawn, I believe, immediately from the record of 
Krishna's work. 

To return to the question of protecting the northern frontier 
of India. It seems a fair estimate that, so far as supplies are 
concerned, a force of a hundred thousand men could without diffi- 
culty rely upon the produce of the luxuriant valleys of the Tsang- 
po and the Nyang chu. It was no friend of England's who 
remarked that the natural frontiers of India were less the Hima- 
layas than the impenetrable deserts which lie a hundred miles 
north of Lhasa, and it is a serious consideration for us that if 
Russia's influence should ever predominate in Lhasa, the actual 
ground to be fought for, diplomatically or otherwise, is that which 
lies across the barrier formed by the Himalayas. The advanced 
base, whether of the defending or of the encroaching force, must 
lie in these valleys. If the fertile fields of southern Tibet cannot 


enter into the calculations of an invading nation, that nation will 
have to rely upon the trans-Siberian railway as its base, and I 
need hardly say that this is tantamount to ridiculing the whole 
danger of invasion through Tibet. Such, baldly stated, is the 

To secure immediate access to this glacis of granaries is the ob- 
vious policy for the British Government to pursue, and it cannot 
be said too insistently that the recognition of this necessity in no 
way whatever involves interference with the internal affairs of 
Tibet. As to a protectorate, the very idea of undertaking respon- 
sibility for an additional eighteen hundred miles of frontier is 
ridiculous. This, however, is a different matter. To secure this 
advantage there is little constructive work needed. An alterna- 
tive route to the prohibitive hardships of the Natu la is now being 
surveyed along the valleys of the Di chu and the Ammo chu. It 
ll is proposed to push rail-head from some point on the line in the 
neighborhood of Dam dim as far up the lower slopes of the Hima- 
layas as is feasible without a rack; and then to construct a cart- 
road, with an easy gradient, along the valley to the head waters 
of the Di chu, crossing into Bhutanese territory near Jong-sa, and 
at a height of 9,000 feet, overpassing at its lowest point the great 
mountain wall which here hems in the right bank of the Ammo 
chu. From this height there is almost a level run into Rinchen- 
gong. Once in the Chumbi Valley the difficulties of a second ex- 
pedition will have been largely overcome, for even as this work 
is published the road from Rinchen-gong to Kamparab is re- 
ceiving the last touches from the engineers who have worked on 
it so long. From Kamparab there is a level natural road which 
has been steadily used throughout the present expedition for 
wheeled traffic as far as Kang-ma. The road is practicable for 
carts for a few miles further still, and the construction of the road 
I have mentioned over the Jong-sa la would enable stores, un- 
loaded at rail-head, to be carried, without bulk broken, on wheeled 


carts to within thirty miles of Gyantse itself. It is hardly neces- 
sary to comment upon this. We have, I repeat, no wish in the 
world to interfere with Tibet so long as Tibet does not imperil 
our tranquillity in Bengal. While we ourselves seek no exclusive 
rights in the country, we have at the same time no intention of 
allowing any other power to secure them. So long as the Tibe- 
tans cordially co-operate with ourselves in excluding foreign po- 
litical influence, so long will we assist them to the best of our 
power by doubling the existing barriers along the common fron- 
tier. But it must be patent to the shallowest that the simple lay- 
ing of this road will in future put us in a position to insist, should 
our friendliness be insufficient to win the loyalty and good faith 
of the hierarchy of Lhasa. It is but bare justice to credit Captain 
O'Connor with the original suggestion of its construction in any 
practicable form. 

Inseparable from this cart-road is the question of trade. Else- 
where I have referred to the staple products of the country. On 
our side it seems clear that tea is beyond all competition the chief 
export from India which the Tibetans would buy profusely and 
with gratitude should the opportunity be fairly presented to them. 
But a curious and unfortunately not an extraordinary thing is 
the unwillingness of the Darjeeling tea-planters to recognize the 
real necessities of the case. They are ready to supply their ordi- 
nary tea in its ordinary form to any extent, but they seem quite 
unwilling to manufacture the tea in that shape in which alone the 
Tibetans recognize the article. I believe that after some pressure 
the institute of planters in the Darjeeling district have sent two 
men to the Chinese tea fields to learn the method of making bricks 
of tea, such as the Tibetans require, but it seems strange that it 
should have required an expedition to teach them such an obvious 
act of commercial prudence. 

This, then, is in brief the truth about our future relations with 
Tibet, and in whatever terms the treaty now signed may eventu- 


ally be ratified, the fact remains unalterable, that by the simple 
construction of a road the northern frontier of India can now be 
safeguarded at an expense which is ridiculously small in compari- 
son with the millions lavished on the north-west, and one which 
by sheer encouragement of trade will be recouped within ten 
years. Roads are the great pioneers of peace, and those who 
know their north-west frontier best will be the first to admit the 
almost instant result of their construction even in the most hos- 
tile districts. But the matter may safely be left in the hands of 
Lord Curzon. 



NO account of an expedition to Lhasa would be complete 
without some reference to the technical side of the religion 
of the country. I have before referred to its application to the 
people and the effect it produces upon their life, but a certain 
amount of information as to the ecclesiastical aspect of Lamaism 
is necessary to a full understanding of the real position which 
Buddhism occupies in Central Asia. I have no intention of 
wearying the reader with minute formulae, but the spirit which 
underlies this Buddhism is worthy of some study. 

The origin of Buddhism in Tibet is explained by the Tibetans 
themselves in a somewhat amusing way. It is said that in old 
days Tibet was a country of ravines and mountain tops and tor- 
rents, varied by huge lakes. Buddha in person then visited the 
land, and found that the inhabitants were monkeys. He ques- 
tioned the monkeys and asked them why they were not men and 
good Buddhists. They answered, not without reason, that with 
the country in its existing state there was no opportunity for the 
development of their own bodies, let alone their religious im- 
pulses. To this Buddha replied : " If you will promise to become 
men and good Buddhists I will give you a good and fertile land 
to live in." The agreement having been struck, Buddha there 
and then drained off the waters from the land which is now 
known as the plain of Gyantse by an underground channel 
through the Himalayas into the Ganges near Gaya. The Tibetans 



on their side kept their promise, and though of course they knew 
not Darwin, became both men and, as they assert, good Buddhists. 

As a matter of fact, the moment at which Buddhism became the 
established religion of Tibet can be ascertained with some ap- 
proach to certainty. The Tibetan King Srong-tsan-gambo, to 
whom reference has been made in the first chapter, must have 
been a man of considerable foresight. It is not in the least likely 
that it was the influence of his two wives, one of whom was a 
Chinese, and the other a Nepalese princess, which decided him to 
adopt Buddhism as the religion of his country, though both of 
them may have helped to strengthen him in his intention. The 
truth is that he recognized the enormous value which would at- 
tach to the identification of Buddhism with his new capital. In 
India, as he saw clearly enough. Buddhism was being driven 
headlong before the re-encroaching tides of Hinduism. Had 
Buddhism remained a living force in India, no other place in Asia 
could have attempted to compete in local religious importance 
with, say, Gaya. But when Buddhism became an exile from the 
land of its birth, Srong-tsan-gambo made use of his opportunity. 
He recognized both the importance of having its central authority 
located in Lhasa, and the peculiar suitability of that place to his 
aims. In the seventh century, therefore, the official metropolis of 
Buddhism was transferred from the plains of Northern India to 
the mountain fastnesses of Tibet, and here in a couple of centuries 
the new religion established itself in the mystic and fascinating 
seclusion which veils it to this day. 

This King of Tibet sent to India for learned Buddhist fathers, 
and, with the unquestioned autocracy of an Oriental tyrant, he 
imposed the new faith upon his people. There are few relics, ex- 
cept, perhaps, in the cathedral of Lhasa itself, of this primeval 
state of Lamaism, but that it underlies and was the founda- 
tion of all that we now see is beyond doubt. The Buddhism 
which was first introduced into Tibet was of the ampler form 


taught by the school of Asanga. It was in its original state the 
" greater vehicle," without any other accretions than those which 
Asanga's opportunism compelled him to adopt from the Hindu 
ritual and mythology. But, as I have said before, the present con- 
dition of Lamaism is such that Buddha himself would hardly 
recognize a phase or a phrase of it. The interesting part of this 
development is that it has been going on without any outside In- 
terference whatever. Secured by their geographical position, 
securer still by their overweening pride in the sacro-sanctity of 
their capital and the learning of their doctors, the Tibetans devel- 
oped Lamaism along lines which betray no foreign influence. But 
this does not imply that the new religion was not severely tested 
and tried. There were molding forces enough in the religious 
party strife to distribute countless lines of cleavage through the 
fibers of the parent Buddhist stock. From the first the difficulty 
of communications in this country and the laxity which neces- 
sarily followed when the strong hand of an autocratic monarchy 
slackened, produced a large number of special and local develop- 
ments of the Buddhist faith. It would be tedious to do more than 
note again that the first universal supremacy of any church in 
Tibet was that created by Kublai Khan in the middle of the thir- 
teenth century, when he recognized the spiritual autocracy of 
the Grand Lama of the Sakya Monastery. 

Sakya lies well to the south of Tashi-lhunpo, far from the influ- 
ences of Lhasa, and here the Red Cap faction flourished exceed- 
ingly. There is a legend in connection with Kublai Khan's action 
which is credible enough. In wide sympathy with all forms of 
religious endeavor, Kublai Khan determined to put the claims of 
the various creeds to ^ practical test ; none was excluded. A cer- 
tain miracle — it was the levitation of a wine cup from the table 
to the Emperor's lips— was to be performed if possible by the 
representatives of the different creeds. Those championing the 
Christian faith were perhaps unwise in accepting this challenge 














I— i 



to make a public advertisement of supernatural powers. The 
lamas, on their side, no doubt, took private and material means 
to secure the success of their own incantations, and the failure 
of the Christians to achieve the marvel put the coping-stone to 
the strength of Buddhism in Central Asia. 

It is not unlikely that the supernatural powers claimed to this 
day among certain sections of the lamas had their origin in this 
curious legend. Madame Blavatsky has drawn attention to these 
claims, and it may be doubted whether much popular enthusiasm 
would ever have been displayed for the shadowy tenets of The- 
osophy if it had not been for these attractive suggestions. Per- 
sonally, I only once came in contact with a lama who made, or 
had made for him, a definite claim to supernatural power. Nyen- 
de-kyi-buk is from time to time called upon to produce lamas of 
unusual sanctity. They are always forthcoming. These men 
have their spiritual capacity proved by their ability to pass certain 
tests, of which several were described to me. The first thing to 
be proved is their capacity to transmit their personality in a visible 
form to Lhasa, Gyantse, and Tashi-lhunpo within the space of a 
few seconds. Another and probably a more difficult feat upon 
which to satisfy their examiners consists in their ability to crawl 
through the keyhole of their locked cell. The Abbot of Nyen-de- 
kyi-buk had successfully passed these tests, but one felt that the 
rules of courtesy forbade one from making any direct request that 
he should repeat on the spot even the simplest of his miracles. 
But supernatural powers are, of course, claimed in a very definite 
manner by all the wizards and magicians of the country, and also 
by the Dalai Lama and other high officials. 

It is perhaps unfair to class the pretense of the magigian to 
keep off hail from the crops by his prayers as an illustration of 
witchcraft, for a not dissimilar claim is implied even in Christian 
services ; but it would be difficult to find a hard and fast point at 
which to draw a dividing line between such a pretension as this 


and that which underlies the claims of the austerer members of 
the Red-cap faction to the supernatural powers to which I have 
just referred. The earlier teachers of Lamaism are undoubtedly 
credited with curious non-human capacities, and the manner in 
which these mighty men of old encountered and defeated the ob- 
stacles devised by their enemies, or put in their path by the con- 
ditions of nature, is probably the basis of the Theosophist con- 

I have been at some pains to ascertain the origin of this belief, 
which Madame Blavatsky has been perhaps chiefly responsible 
for spreading. The following most learned teachers may be 
quoted here as having been the source of much of her doctrine : 

1. Nub-chen-nam-kar-ning-po.—A Red-cap Lama, who trans- 
ported himself at will through the air. 

2. Niih-chen-sang-gyi-ye-she. — This man had even dared to 
see Shin-je himself, the god of Hell. He was also able to split 
rocks with a stroke of his purbu. 

3. Nal-jor-gyal-wa-chok-yung. — A mighty teacher of the 
Red-cap school. 

4. Khan-dro-ye-she-tso-gyal. — A woman disciple of the Guru 
Rinpoche. She exercised supernatural powers. 

5. Dog-mi-pal-gi-ye-she. — He meditated on a snow-field with 
such success that the welfare and the misery of the world alike 
were visible to him, and he was obeyed by the goddesses them- 

6. Nyak-chen-ye-she-scheun-nu.—A Lama of the Red-cap 
sect, who obtained water from a rock in the desert by touching 
it with his finger. 

7. Tub-chen-pal-gyi-sing-ge. — A Bhutanese, whom the gods 
and goddesses were compelled to obey. 

8. N ga-dag-cho-gyal. — This Lama lived at Samye. He lived 
without eating and made himself invisible at will. 


9. Nal-jor-wang-chuk-chempo. — A pupil of the Guru Rin- 
poche, of great but unspecified supernatural powers. 

10. Na-nam-dor-je-dud-jom. — A pupil of the Guru Rinpoche, 
who could project himself through the air. 

11. Ba-mi-ye-she.—A pupil of the Guru Rinpoche. This 
man, like Enoch, passed into Nirvana without going through 
the pains of death. 

12. Sok-po-lha-pal. — This man, the fourth of the Guru's 
great disciples, had the power of killing a tiger by touching 
its neck with his hands. 

13. Na-nang-ye-she. — This Lama was learned enough to be 
able to fly through the air like a bird, 

14. Khar-chen-pal-gyi-wong-chuk, — This great interpreter of 
Khar-chen wrought wonders with his purbu. 

15. Shu-po-pal-ki-sing-ge. — A Tibetan "doctor," who con- 
trolled the sea. 

16. Ko-wa-pal-tse. — A Hindu. His supernatural gifts are not 

17. Na-jal-den-ma-tse-mang.—K Hindu magician of the Red- 
cap school. 

18. Gyal-wo-lo-deu.—A Hindu pundit (who brought brass 
images to life!). 

19. Kyu-chung.—A youthful Hindu interpreter, who spoke 
the language of birds. 

20. Kun-chok-jang-ne.—A Hindu pundit who controlled the 

21. Nal-joy-pal-gyi-dor-je. — This man was able to walk as 
easily over precipices as over the ground. 

22. Lo-che-ma-thog-rin-chen.— With his magical powers he 
was able to tear off great boulders from the mountain side and 
crush them to powder in his hands. 

23. Wo-den-pal-gyi-wang-chuk.— This teacher could swim 
through water as quickly and as easily as a fish. 


24. Nal-jor-den-pa-nam-khe. — This great Lama was so 
skilled in magic lore that he could catch by the ear even the 
"flesh-licking" bison. (This is the repeated statement of a 
Tibetan lama, but if the yak is intended, it neither " licks flesh " 
nor much minds being held by the ear.) 

25. Dub-chen-gyal-wo-chang-chub.— While meditating he 
was levitated into the air and so remained. 

I have given these uncouth names in ordef to place upon a 
proper footing the supernatural claims of theosophists for Tibe- 
tan Lamaism. I have myself no doubt that, in these traditions 
lies the origin of many of their beliefs, and I am glad to provide 
such material for acquiescence or argument as these supply.^ 

The word Mahatma is not known in Tibet, and, though he 
must know little of the East who will definitely say that any 
apparent variation therein of the ordinary course of nature, 
whether due to hypnotism or not, is incredible, I do not think, 
on the whole, that any particular occult knowledge will come to 
us from Tibet. Formulae and details of ritual we did indeed 
find in overwhelming numbers, and the credulity and superstition 
of the common people may once have suggested that there really 
is something in these claims to theurgy, but the success with 
which a monotoned imprecation impresses a crowd of worship- 
ers in a Tibetan gompa is, we found, due merely to the policy 
of extinguishing knowledge which the lamas have adopted. 

To return to the history of the Church, Buddhism, in its 
earliest shape, was an agnostic rather than an atheistic form of 
religion. Buddha's scheme of retribution implies a belief in a 
First Cause, but when on a certain occasion he was asked to ex- 
press an opinion upon the validity or otherwise of the traditional 

* This list is, I believe, a complete one of all the "red letter" doctors of 
the Lamaic Church who wrought miracles. It is included in the full " ong 
kur-wa" or " power-sendingj" equipment of a Lamaic wizard. 


deities known to Asia, he declined to admit the necessity of a 
categorical answer. He may have thought that it was convenient 
for common people of low intelligence, whose minds could only 
grasp a truth objectively, to have some external and tangible 
crystallization of truths, however far they might be from that 
which he saw. More than that cannot, I think, be found in the 
earliest form of Buddhism. There were, however, few even 
among the earliest Buddhists who were strong enough to drink 
this pure milk of the Word, and we find that even before Asanga 
had fused the two creeds. Buddhism was peopled with many 

After the " Buddhas " and the Bodisats — a large class, consist- 
ing of those who have, so to speak, qualified themselves to be 
Buddhas, but whose self-denial has not yet and may never be 
called upon — there is a class of divinity which is very strikingly 
prominent in Tibet. These are the tutelary or guardian deities, 
chiefly of the " Towo " or " terrible " aspect. These were the 
original gods of the country, and after Buddha, who is always 
conceived as having made a personal mission tour through the 
land, had converted these hideous human monsters to his own 
austerer faith, he permitted them to retain their aspect and even 
their powers of doing harm, in order, as he said, that they might 
defend the faith and the chosen people from outside rattack. This 
retention has had a natural result. There is no .doubt that the 
inclusion of these " terrible " guardians in the Lamaic Pantheon 
has been the chief cause of the people remaining at heart devil- 
worshipers. We can imagine that at first the apostles of Bud- 
dhism found their work considerably smoothed for them by ac- 
cepting the devil-gods of the aboriginal inhabitants. In this they 
after all only carried out Asanga's own policy in India, but the 
result, which they might have foreseen, has been that, except for 
the external veneer of Buddhism, devil-worship has absorbed its 


These terrible deities are the gods of the common people of 
Tibet. The mild-eyed Buddha is to them only a vague means 
of escape from the tyranny of these loathsome and misshapen 
monsters, aureoled with the fire of hell, who with dripping fangs 
and beastly deformities are far more present and practical than 
the master. They are placed, naturally enough, at the gates and 
in the forecourts of temples, either in actual carved shape, or, 
as is far more common, painted upon the walls. Upon these the 
eye of the passer-by rests, and it is probable that he rarely asks 
for any higher sanction for his religious duties than that which 
they afford. They terrify him into obedience to his lama, and 
that is all that the lama requires. For an adequate conception 
of the real effect of Lamaism upon the Tibetans, it is hardly 
necessary to go higher up in the scale than these tutelary deities. 

Vaguely known to the common Tibetans by their colored fig- 
ures upon wayside rocks are such semi-deities as Dolma, in her 
three hues of green, red, and white, and in the same class may 
perhaps be placed the eight ladies in whom Colonel Waddell 
recognizes aboriginal deities adopted en bloc by the incoming 
Buddhists. They are of comely complexion, and certainly do 
-not look as if butter would melt in their mouths. This, however, 
is not the case if the fearsome tales which were told to me by 
one of our interpreter lamas have any foundation in fact. They 
are probably merely the spouses of the male tutelary deities, and 
•derive any importance they may possess from the reflection of 
their consorts' terrors. A very common figure in wall paintings 
is the god of wealth. He is represented with a red face, and 
down his left forearm runs the mongoose by which jewels * are 
fetched from the center of the earth. Conventionally there is 
a rank and degree for every member of this supernatural com- 
pany; but even the educated Tibetan is quite willing to allow 

* Jewels are conventionally represented in Tibetan art 
like turnips of different colors. 


these complications of mythology to be understanded of the 
priests alone, and it is practically sufficient for the traveler to 
recognize at sight the four terrible guardian deities of the four 
quarters of Heaven, Tamdin, so called because of the horse's 
head and neck which are always to be found in the flames with 
which his head is crowned, Shin-je, the god of Hell, and Pal- 

Besides these are the mischievous gods which the lamas use 
to subjugate the common folk — gods of lesser and local influ- 
ence. They are malignant sprites with strictly limited powers. 
They have a thousand different shapes. Some are gnomes or 
hobgoblins, creeping and peeping among the rocks. Some are 
gigantic brutes a mile in height, with tiny mouths which pre- 
vent them swallowing even the smallest crumb; naturally they 
suffer from hunger, and in their agonized writhings they are the 
immediate cause of earthquakes. Others again confine them- 
selves to peaks and passes — the noi-jins ^ are of this class. They 
do not, however, do much harm to mankind except that of course 
avalanches are their work, and they seem also to be responsible 
for breathing out what the Tibetans call la-druk—" the poison 
of the pass." This, of course, is merely the attenuated air which 
even in the hardiest Tibetan will bring on mountain sickness and 
nausea. Then there are imps who hide themselves during the 
-day and come out and hold high revels all the night. They 
ride over the hills and plains on foxback, and if you hear one of 
these animals yelping in the distance, you may be sure that it 
is being over-driven and beaten sorely by one of these " lan-de." 
However, as the only whip which they are allowed to use is 
the hemlock stalk, the wounds cannot be very severe. 

Every village and every district has its own particular god, 
and it is part of the duties and the emoluments of the lamas to 

^ The first word in Nichi-kang-sang is really Noi-jin, 
but it is never so pronounced. 


instruct travelers (for a moderate fee) as to the deity proper to 
be invoked at the entrance of each commune. Fevers and dis- 
eases of all kinds are caused by minute but malignant sprites. 
Thus, when you see a rainbow, you may know that these in- 
finitely small folk are sliding down it Iris-like to the water at its 
foot, and then beware of that place, for ague lies thereby. If 
one wished to put into a fanciful form the last theories at home 
about malaria, this would be as pretty a way of telling them as 
any. They amuse themselves (here, perhaps, we have the miss- 
ing anopheles) by playing on guitars. Some of these spirits 
live solely on odors. They inhabit the air, and flit like fairies to 
and fro. They feed upon any kind of scent or stench, good or bad, 
and butchers burn oflfal round their shops in order that by a more 
overpowering smell than that of their own wares, these spirits 
may be attracted away. Finally, there are the shri, the com- 
monest and perhaps the most dreaded spirits of them all. It is 
to be noticed that they are chiefly dangerous because they attack 

These spirits really represent to the common Tibetan peasant 
all the religious influences that he knows, and for him the 
elaborate structure of Lamaism is only a shield and defense 
against a very real terror which waits for him a hundred times 
a day beside his path and about his bed. For the lamas, on the 
other hand, there is much in the ritual of their church, and if 
they do not actually disbelieve in the existence of these malig- 
nant spirits, they feel perfectly secure behind the protection af- 

* Children are very well treated in Tibet. Of course they are left unwashed, 
and if they have any kind of disease they are left to grow out of it if it is so 
ordained. The result of these two customs is that skin disease among the 
children is unpleasantly common. But they are well-fed, never ill-treated, 
and have, on the whole, a very good time. From the very beginning they 
were never afraid of our troops, and the first word of Hindustani that was 
learned by the Tibetans as a whole was the " salaam " which the three-year- 
old mites ran beside us and squeaked continually. Afterward " salaam " was 
a well-recognized form for exchanging salutations among their seniors. 


forded by their rites and ceremonies. But for them an entirely 
different set of emotions and motives comes into play. The 
attitude of the lamas is in its way not less credulous and un- 
taught than is that of the poorer people, but the spur which 
drives them to religious observances is not the fear of earthly 
mischief, by whomsoever caused ; it is a very different and a very 
interesting goad of their own making — a blind horror of the 
consequences of that reincarnation upon which the whole fabric 
of Lamaism is built. This is a most interesting question. 

It is difificult for a Christian to realize how terrible a weapon 
this article of faith can become. For him this world, good or 
bad, is at least the last world in which things earthly will affect 
him. Of the next he knows only by the eye of faith, and the 
terror inspired by the most material conception of hell is un- 
questionably mitigated by the fact that the most earnest Chris- 
tian believer cannot really know what it is that awaits the wicked 
after death.* Indeed, if it were not so, if there were no such 
modifying circumstance attached to the formulae of Christianity, 
life for a devout man could hardly fail to be— if on his own 
behalf perhaps, certainly on that of his friends— an agony of 
pain. This, I fancy, it rarely is— at least, on this account. 
There is another distinction to be remembered. The human 
mind is notoriously incapable of conceiving the notion of eter- 
nity. But the Oriental can throw his conceptions forward in 
a vastly greater degree than the European. Whether we deny 
it or not, our conception of time is dominated by our habitual 
method of measurement. For us a year is not merely a conve- 
nient form of expression, it is a hampering unit from which we 
cannot shake ourselves free. For a Tibetan the life is the unit 
of repetition, and it must be remembered that a lifetime is an 

* I am aware of the Roman article " Ignis Inferni est corporeus et ejusdem 
speciei cum hoc nostro elementari." But this statement is so much qualified 
by the many supernatural properties claimed for the flame that even a Roman 
Catholic cannot clearly fix his conception of the means of punishment. 


infinitely longer time for a man than are his seventy years. A 
lama's conception of eternity is, therefore, of a terrible depth 
compared with ours, and, what is far more, he believes from 
his earliest days that failure on his part to acquire merit in this 
world will result not in an instantaneous and irrevocable judg- 
ment, after which at least no action of his own can do him good, 
but in a never-ending repetition in some form of life in this world 
of the very same struggle that he is now enduring. And the 
ingenuity with which the lamas have conceived the lowest, filthi- 
est and most obscene envelopes in which the sentient and in- 
telligent human mind and soul may, after death, be re-impris- 
oned, would do credit to a monkish theologian anticipating 
cases for the canon law. Herein lies the rub of it all. 

The means of punishment is ever under his eye. Here is 
an example. The ordinary man in the country will slip his outer 
garment down over his shoulders and spend a lazy hour, in the 
heat of the sun, in detecting and exterminating the almost in- 
visible vermin which inhabit his robe. But to the lama this is 
forbidden, for there can never be an hour in his skin-tormented 
life in which he does not remember that his loathsome parasites 
may have deserved their present fate by carelessness in some 
point of ritual during their life on earth — nay, that he may even 
himself be then awaiting the imminent moment in which he 
shall join their creeping company. 

If the reader can seriously understand that this is not a mere 
theoretical truth, but an actual daily terror to the educated 
classes in Tibet, he may go some way toward understanding 
one at least of the myriad terrors which a belief in the theory 
of reincarnation necessitates. If, then, it is clear that the men- 
tal terrors of the Tibetans, whether they are called by the name 
of superstition or of religion, have provided for the profess- 
ing Buddhists, high and low alike, an ample sanction for the 
due observance of the rules of life, it remains to be seen what 


general effect these rules have upon the life and morals of the 

One thing at least is clear in the case of nearly every religion 
of importance. The influence of religion has in almost every case 
been used to inculcate not only such virtues as tended to secure 
the material prosperity of the nation, but such also as make 
for the permanence of society and the sanitary benefit of the 
members of the faith. As an example, it is sufficient to point 
to Islam. Mahomet, whatever his spiritual deficiencies, had a 
keen and certain eye for the necessities of a nation living in the 
tropics, surrounded by hostile tribes in every direction. The 
trend of his regulations is obvious enough. Every line of the 
Koran breathes of sanitation on earth, and, after death on the 
field of battle, of the hope of an eternity of pleasure. It is 
easy to understand why the devotees of so straight a creed have 
never ebbed from their widest flow. But in Tibet, after a sanc- 
tion had been obtained, which for strength has been surpassed 
by nothing elsewhere held out for the admiration or terror of 
men, we find that the religion thereby enforced is not merely 
neglectful of the development or even of the continued existence 
of its professing members, but is even detrimental to it. 

Buddhists are, of course, confronted with the same difficulty 
by which Christians also are faced. Nothing is more charac- 
teristic of the two faiths than the repeated injunction to suffer 
injuries meekly and take no life. I do not propose to discuss 
so difficult a theological compromise as that at which the Chris- 
tian nations of the world have arrived in this matter, but it may 
be pointed out that Buddhists must again and again have found 
it difficult to adopt even an approximation to this rule of life, 
surrounded as they are by races to whom such laws were patent 
foolishness. Christianity in Europe, strong within itself and 
its friendly co-religionists, is in a different case. In Tibet the sac- 
rosanct character of the country has saved the inhabitants again 


and again from hostile attack ; and this, combined with the neces- 
sity of keeping a serf people in an unarmed condition, has made 
of the Tibetans a quiet race unused to war. I do not for a mo- 
ment wish to say that the Tibetan was found by us wanting in 
individual pluck, but it is a long step from the innate courage 
of an untutored and misled barbarian to the effective self-confi- 
dence of the same man properly officered and buoyed up with 
all the confidence that religion and discipline can instil. Herein 
lies a characteristic of Buddhism which, from a- political point of 
view, cannot be classed otherwise than as a serious fault. So 
long as the earth remains divided into races whose first duty 
is self-preservation, so long, deplorable as it may be from an 
ideal point of view, a religion which does not also help to pro- 
tect the nation as well as defend the family, stands little chance 
of propagating its own good influences. Now, Lamaism has 
no such tendencies. It does not make of the man a good fighter, 
and it certainly does not make of him either an intelligent citizen 
or a good father of a family. I suppose that under these three 
heads almost every human virtue can be classed. That it does 
not help him in his civic life is obvious enough, for absolute 
servitude, mental and physical, is the political result of Lama- 
ism upon its flock. So far as concerns his domestic relations, 
it seems clear that the polyandry practised in Tibet is not likely 
to lead to a high standard of morals. The results of the 
large proportion of women who, in consequence, have no chance 
of becoming wives, and the complication in family relationships 
that results from these strange marital customs, might be less 
harmful if, as happens in Sumatra and on the coasts of Malabar, 
the women undertook also the government of the country. But 
they do not ; far from it ; they have no voice whatever in the gov- 
ernment of the country ; they still remain merely the toys or the 
beasts of burden of their male acquaintances. It need not be 
said that, in the conventional sense of the word, morals are 
unknown in Tibet. 


But it must not be supposed that Tibetans are therefore de- 
void of characteristics which, after all, may rank as high as the 
virtues of sterner moralists. They are courteous and hospitable, 
and so long as they do not feel that their wits are being chal- 
lenged, their word may be relied upon and their kindliness taken 
for granted. They are industrious and, as we have seen, capable 
of extraordinary physical activity. It is true that this activity 
finds its vent rather in the muscles of the legs than in those of 
the fingers, but this is only to be expected. They remain dirty, 
but dirtiness is a merely relative expression. If you must have 
your daily tub you will not travel far, except on the high roads 
of this world — I had almost said of England. But far more 
than this fact, which must be known to a traveler within even 
a limited radius, there remains the fact that dirt — so far, I mean, 
as affects the human being — is far less offensive in high and cold 
altitudes than it would be in London, and it is hardly too much 
to say that there was no one in the expedition who did not, after 
a comparatively short time, come to look upon the dirtiness of 
those who surrounded him with a mere mental shrug of the shoul- 
ders.^ It has been before suggested that the cold of Phari was one 
of the reasons of its supreme filth, and this is borne out by every 
experience of Tibet. ^ I do not think that many of even those 
stalwarts who bathe in the Serpentine on Christmas morning 
would cut a valiant figure on the Tang la, where the thermometer 
is sometimes fifty-nine degrees lower than the freezing-point 
they defy in Hyde Park. 

But in other ways than those of ablution, the religion of 

* It is not uninteresting to remember that for days at a time on the plain of 
Phari in January and February it was foolhardiness to attempt to wash one's 
hands before midday. I remember once reaching out, in the early hours of 
the morning, for an aluminium cup which had had some water in it over-night 
and thoughtlessly trying to drink from it. My lips stuck to the aluminium, 
and the skin came away with it. The water was, of course, a block of ice, 
and the temperature was — 15°. 

* Andrada politely remarks " e se bene nelle proprie persone non hanno 
molto riguardo alia delicatura." 


Tibet makes no attempt to enforce healthiness. It is beyond 
question that the ophthalmia of Tibet is due directly and the prev- 
alence of hare-lip ^ indirectly to the physical inadequacy of the 
Tibetan race. Pyramidal cataract is another very common dis- 
ease; this is mainly caused by neglect of ophthalmia, of which 
the origin is again neglect of cleanliness. These physical defi- 
ciencies or deformities might easily be supplemented by a refer- 
ence to the prevalence of smallpox and similar dirt diseases ; but 
at the moment I wish simply to emphasize the fact that a religion 
which neither directly nor indirectly encourages cleanliness, is 
one which requires artificial fostering if it is to remain a power 
among mankind. That artificial fostering Lamaism has always 
received. Partly from its inaccessibility, partly from the su- 
perstitious veneration with which the country and its god-king 
have always been regarded, and partly because of the stubborn 
exclusion of foreign influences, Lamaism has been allowed, if 
I may use a common phrase, to stew in its own juice until the 
goodness has entirely departed from it and from the people 
who are its official ministers. It is difficult at this moment to 
point to a single recognized and observed ordinance peculiar to 
Lamaism which is of the slightest use or virtue. 

It is odd to remember that an early explorer in this country 
found, as he thought, every sign of Christianity except the es- 
sence of it. In the first half of the seventeenth century Father 
Andrada, in the following words, reported what he believed to 
be the truth in this connection : 

" L'immagini sono d'oro, & una, che vedemmo in Chaparan- 
gue, stana a sedere con le mani alzate e rappresentana una donna, 
la quale dicono che e Madre di Dio : riconoscono il misterio deir 
incarnatione dicendo, che il figlio di Dio si e fatto huomo : ten- 
gono di piu il Misterio della Santissima Trinita molto distincto, 

* Hare-lip is a symptom of a physically under-developed human being. 


e dicono, che Dio e trino & uno. Usano di confessarsi, ma sola- 
mente in certi casi col suo Lamba Maggiore. Hanno vasi d'ac- 
qua benedetta molto politi, da quali pigliano i particolari per 
tenerla in casa." 

There is without doubt a curious resemblance between the 
ritual of the two great autocratic churches. The arrangements 
inside the gompa might well be regarded as owing their origin 
to Christian usages. The sanctuary, especially at night, bears 
a curious resemblance to that of a Roman Catholic shrine. And 
the antiphonal chant of the singing men and boys, ranged just 
as with ourselves in lines, decani and cantoris, the monotoned 
voice and the rare tinkle of the Sanctus, combined with the genu- 
flexions before the altar, carry on inside the church a merely 
ritualistic resemblance which adds color to the fanciful imagin- 
ings in deeper matters of Father Andrada of the Society of Jesus. 
Nor does the similarity stop here. The orders within the 
Church, the relative positions of pope and cardinal, abbot and 
parish priest, all have their equivalent in Lamaism, and the use 
of the cross gammadion as the badge of the faith cannot but 
strike as curious the most careless observer. Indulgences also 
are freely used, though it must be admitted that in Lamaism 
these approximate more nearly to the erroneous view of their 
intention taken by Protestant communities than to their real 
function in the Roman Church. The Dalai Lama on one occa- 
sion somewhat overstepped prudence in this matter. To induce 
the men of Kams to come down and fight us, he offered them 
plenary indulgences which should not only absolve them from 
sins past, but safeguard them against the penalties for sins to 
come for the next six months. The men of Kams, furnished 
with this spiritual armor, did not fail to make use of it, and 
on their return from the Karo la ran riot among the Grand 
Lama's own temples, looting and sacking everywhere they went. 


The practice of blessing small articles distributed among 
pious pilgrims is, of course, common to all religions in the world. 
The spiritual brigandage of the lamas finds its counterpart in 
many other creeds, for the purse of superstition lies at the 
mercy of the first comer; but it would be unjust not to record 
in the strongest terms the great radical difference that exists be- 
tween Lamaism at its best and Christianity at its worst. There 
has never been absent from the lowest profession of our faith 
a full recognition of the half-divine character- of self-sacrifice 
for another. Of this Tibetans know nothing. The exact per- 
formance of their duties, the daily practice of conventional of- 
fices and continual obedience to their Lamaic superiors is for them 
a means of escape from personal damnation in a form which is 
more terrible perhaps than any monk-conjured Inferno. For 
others they do not profess to have even a passing thought. 

Now this is a distinction which goes to the very root of the 
matter. The fact is rarely stated in so many words, but it is the 
truth that Christianity is daily judged by one standard and by 
one standard only — its altruism, and this complete absence of 
carefulness for others, this insistent and fierce desire to save one's 
own soul, regardless of a brother's, is in itself something that 
makes foreign to one the best that Lamaism has to offer. Kim's 
lama may exist to-day; that is, there may be, and indeed I have 
no hesitation in saying that there are, in Tibet at the present mo- 
ment members of this priestly caste of whose sanctity and austere 
detachedness from mundane pleasures there is no doubt, men of 
kindly heart, unsullied by the world, struggling so far as in them 
lies to reach back to the great Example beneath the quivering 
leaves of the pipul tree of Gaya. But apart from the fact that 
these men are rare indeed, and were they commoner could exert 
little or no influence upon others, it is to be remembered that there 
is only one way in which the pious Buddhist can hope to help his 
fellow-man, and that the very structure of Lamaism decides for 


him whether or not he Is destined to be one of the helpers before 
a conscious thought moves through his baby brain. 

The doctrine of the reincarnation of Bodisats is perhaps a the- 
ory which in conception is not unworthy to rank close behind even 
that great sacrifice upon which Christianity is based. For the 
Bodisat has earned the right to eternal rest; for him, and he 
knows it well, there need be no more " whips and scorns of time " ; 
everlasting quietude, so peaceful that the soul does not know even 
that it is at peace, the Paradise to which all Buddhism stretches 
out and, as it may, creeps from point to point, all this he has most 
fully and most fairly won. But having reached the goal of all 
desire, the Bodisat turns again, with deliberate purpose, to de- 
scend into the arena of the world and the flesh, there to help on- 
ward along the thorny road some few at least of his fellow-men. 
And this is not a single choice. He elects so to continue in an 
eternal cycle, bound down by the cares and pleasures of the flesh, 
generation after generation, in order that some of his fellow men 
may have their feet set straighter on the road that leads to the 
blissful abyss. 

But, as I have said, this is no goal for the ordinary man. If he 
is not born one of the reincarnate saints of Buddhism, he has no 
further interest in his fellow kind, and even the best of them have 
no other incentive to action or piety than that of saving them- 
selves, bodily as well as spiritually, from that life which to a 
Buddhist is the truest eternal punishment. This is the underlying 
flaw that vitiates the spiritual value of Buddhism, just as it viti- 
ates that of every other religion of the world, except Christianity.* 

* If there is one result of this doctrine of reincarnation more unfortunate 
than another it is the theory that a man who is physically deficient has de- 
served his punishment by his behavior in another world. Browning's remark 
in " Childe Roland," 

" He must be wicked to deserve such pain," 

might have been written — and perhaps should only have been written — ^by a 
Buddhist of Tibet. 


It cuts at the root of human sympathy. It isolates the indi- 
vidual in his life and in his death, and it says a great deal for the 
innate beauty of the character we found, among the simple Tibe- 
tan peasants that they remain kindly, hospitable, and courteous 
in spite of the debasing influences of the only religion they can 



THE relief of the Mission at Gyantse was the beginning of 
the last movement in our operations in Tibet. For seven 
weeks, day after day, the bombardment of the post had continued. 
It was an ignominious position for the King's Commissioner to be 
placed in, and there is no doubt that our prestige suffered consid- 
erably during this period ; still, our own absolute confidence in the 
successful termination of our operations was perhaps somewhat 
reflected in Lhasa, for as soon as news came of the advance of 
the troops from the Chumbi Valley, representatives were actually 
deputed by the Tsong-du to negotiate in Gyantse. Colonel 
Younghusband had been ordered to send in to the Tibetan Gov- 
•ernment a polite ultimatum, the terms of which were simply that 
unless negotiations were opened with an accredited representative 
of high standing at Gyantse before the 25th of June, he would be 
compelled to proceed to Lhasa and there conduct the necessary 
pourparlers. It was generally felt in the post that the India Office 
had failed to understand that, from an Oriental point of view, it 
was a display of weakness even to mention the word " negotia- 
tion " before the jong, from which we were daily fired upon, had 
been completely evacuated and full apologies and reparation of- 
fered for the insults we had suffered so long. But the orders 
that Colonel Younghusband received were explicit. Even while 
the lumps of lead were viciously tearing through the trees of his 
compound, the British Commissioner despatched the invitation 
to negotiate which he had been instructed to forward. It was car- 
ried into Gyantse, most unwillingly, by a prisoner on the ist of 



June.^ The Tibetans merely waited till daylight on the following 
morning and returned it unopened. This action on the part of 
the Tibetans cleared the issue considerably. It is true that the 
Colonel took care that the Amban should be informed of the con- 
tents of his letter and of the action of the Tibetans in the matter, 
but the responsibility for renewed hostilities on our own side was 
at an end. It is possible that the abrupt discourtesy of the Tibe- 
tans saved us from a serious dilemma; for had they been more 
polite the situation, as it then presented itself, still would have 
demanded a different and a stronger handling than that which 
might have been suitable in the early days of our dispute 
with Tibet. Younghusband, however, as was made abundantly 
clear by the reiterated assurances of Lord Lansdowne, would 
not have been allowed to depart one iota from the policy as 
laid down in November. That policy, in fact, the Government 
adhered to till the end, and we have not yet fully reaped the con- 

The real answer to the demands of the Commissioner was given 
in a redoubled bombardment that afternoon. There was nothing 
more to be done until the arrival of Brigadier-General Macdonald. 
Covered ways extending out across the plain to Pala, or zigzag- 
ging up toward the Gurkha Post or to the bridge across the river 
at the end of the plantation, made communication between all 
parts of our lines easy and secure. During these last few days 
the Tibetans began firing into our position jingal bullets made 
of pure red-gold copper. The use of this metal seemed an ex- 
travagance and probably indicated that the supply of lead was 
running low. They were pretty little things about as big as a 
large Tangerine orange, and possibly present an unique use of 
this metal for such a purpose. 

^ Nothing terrified the prisoners in Chang-Io more effectually or got better 
work out of them than a threat of release. This man asked that, if he carried 
out this commission, he might be given a safe conduct to return to cap- 
tivity in Pala. 


On the 6th of June, Colonel Younghusband started from Chang- 
lo with a strong escort of mounted infantry on a return journey 
to Chumbi, in order to be within easier communication with the 
Indian Government; he arrived at Kang-ma in the afternoon of 
the day, and on the following morning, before light, found the 
post half surrounded by a party of about 1,000 Tibetans, who had 
come down overnight from Nyeru by the short cut to Ra-lung. 
They made a bold attack in the mist of the early dawn, and suc- 
ceeded in killing one Gurkha who refused to take refuge on their 
approach. They stampeded the yaks and even managed to come 
to a hand-to-hand struggle with some of their drivers. But after 
a moment's delay in rousing the garrison, they were easily beaten 
off and lost over 100 men; their retreat was turned into a rout 
by the pursuit of the mounted infantry. Most of them made their 
escape by the mountain nullahs in all directions, but though they 
remained in the neighborhood, no further attempt was made to 
oppose the Commissioner's return journey. 

At this time the Tibetans, so far as could be ascertained, had 
a force of about 10,000 men in or round Gyantse; of these, 6,000 
were holding the points of vantage in the immediate neighbor- 
hood of Chang-lo. There were 1,500 on the jong itself, a similar 
number at Tse-chen monastery, 500 at Dong^se, and the remainder 
were either in the Palkhor choide or in the town and villages 
hard by. A rumor reached us of a large camp just hidden from 
us by the curving spur which forms the amphitheater within the 
sides of which the monastery is built ; these men, however, must 
have abandoned their encampment soon afterward, certainly be- 
fore the arrival of our troops. Perhaps another 3,000 men may 
have been distributed along the road between Gyantse plain and 
the Tsang-po. There was also a report of an additional 2,000 
men from Kamba-jong who had been awaiting our advance near 
the Kala tso. However, in spite of frequent alarms, these last re- 
mained a spectral body to the end. The Tibetans were com- 


manded by a Depen of the name of Chag-pa ; associated with him 
in supreme political autlwrity was an old friend of Kamba-jong 
days, the Teling Kusho. 

The relieving force arrived on the 26th of June, having had an 
uneventful march from Chumbi. There was, indeed, a rumor that 
the Tibetans Itad concentrated not far from Nyeru and a halt was 
made at Kang-ma, while a small party went out to test the truth 
of the story. Evidently, however, the Tibetans had got wind of 
this reconnaissance, for they abandoned their position overnight ; 
all that the reconnoitering party found was the still warm embers 
of many fires and a few cooking-pots beside them. The march 
was continued through Red Idol Gorge without incident, but 
shortly after leaving Sau-gang on the morning of the 26th, Cap- 
tain O'Connor brought them the news that Ne-nyeng, between 
them and Gyantse, was strongly held. He and I had come out 
of Gyantse and passed Ne-nyeng by a circuitous course; it had 
been re-fortified and partially rebuilt where necessary. Colonel 
Brander had demolished its defenses about a month before, as a 
: punishment for an attack upon the mail runners. But he could 
not, of course, occupy a place so large and so remote from our 
small garrison, and with a nation skilled in building like the Tibe- 
tans, the amount of harm which we could do by the chary use of 
our small stock of gun-cotton had easily been made good by 
them.^ The walls of the monastery here are thirty feet sheer, and 
the Tibetans had strengthened them by the erection of sangars; 
Ne-nyeng would have been a strong little post had it not been 
commanded by the hills which half encircled the little plain in 
which it lies. Colonel Brander on this morning co-operated with 
Macdonald by leading a small force from Chang-lo up the hills in 
rear of the town ; he had with him two guns and a Maxim. He 

*It was discovered that for our engineering and military requirements the 
whole stock of explosives in Calcutta had by this time been exhausted. From 
Karachi and elsewhere a little could still be obtained. 


reached his destination without being detected, and then awaited 
the action of the General in the plain below, outside the walls. 
The latter, after reconnoitering the position, sent up a detachment 
of the 40th Pathans under Colonel Burne; in the face of a heavy 
but badly aimed fire, these, men, supported by a contingent from 
the 23d Pioneers, succeeded in effecting an entrance by scaling 
an almost perpendicular buttress of adobe and mud. Forcing 
their way on, they found the monastery inside to be, as usual, a 
human rabbit warren. The recesses and underground chambers 
were innumerable, and it was impossible finally to clear the post 
of its inhabitants. Many, however, were killed, and a lesson was 
taught the survivors which the people of Ne-nyeng respected till 
the end of the campaign. After the monastery had been taken 
a few shots were fired from a stubbornly held house just outside 
the walls ; there were in it about six men, and they, with indomi- 
table pluck, kept up a steady reply to the volleys of rifle bullets 
which must have penetrated clean through and through the thin 
adobe walls. Brigadier-General Macdonald then ordered up the 
ten-pounders and the improved seven-pounders, and 60 or 70 
shells were fired into this house ; the men, however, escaped, and 
were seen making their way through the bushes and inclosures to 
the north of the village. The column then started again, and 
about ten o'clock that evening the last stragglers arrived in camp 
near Chang-lo. There was a day's halt and then the clearing of 
the Gyantse neighborhood began. 

On the 28th Macdonald sent a strong force down the valley. 
The 32d Pioneers were on the right bank of the Nyang chu, the 
7th Royal Fusiliers and the 23d Pioneers were on the left bank, 
and they moved down the wide open space, clearing it from end 
to end as they advanced. There was no great resistance, and at 
last the valley of Gobshi, where the carpet factory is, was taken 
and occupied. Here there was a long pause, and the battalions 
forming the left wing of the attacking force found themselves 


unable to proceed to the capture of the most important position of 
the day. This was the fort-like monastery of Tse-chen, crowning 
the sharp knife-edged spur which here runs out from the west, 
separated from the hills only by the narrow strait in which Gobshi . 
lies. The importance of this operation was obvious, for by se- 
curing Tse-chen we cut off the main and, indeed, the only remain- 
ing road to Gyantse which the Tibetans had in their possession. 

It fell to the lot of the Gurkhas and Pathans to capture, by one 
of the most picturesque actions that is possible to imagine, this 
western barrier which had for so long screened from our sight the 
movements of the enemy along the Shigatse road. The mise en 
scene of the fight it would be hard to parallel ; the key to the posi- 
tion was a squat, strongly built stone keep, astride the crest be- 
tween two fortified peaks. Immediately below it, the ascending 
tiers of white monastery buildings, all well occupied, prevented 
direct approach. On the other side of the crest, toward Dongtse, 
the rock descended headlong. By the time the movement began,, 
the sun was low and heavy indigo clouds were coming up from 
Shigatse. The jagged outline of the spur was clearly silhouetted 
against the lemon-yellow of the sky, and, after a long wait, one 
could see very clearly the little figures of the Gurkhas moving 
along the sky-line from the west. 

It was a difficult task; they could only advance in single file 
along the very teeth of this rocky jaw; again and again they 
halted ; once they signaled down to ask for the guns' help to clear 
a strongly held sangar across the road; it was instantly given, 
beautifully timed, and thoroughly effective. Then the little dots 
crawled forward once more over the evacuated wall. At last, just 
as the leaders reached the left-hand peak overlooking the jong, a 
stubborn and somewhat unexpected resistance was encountered. 
The defenses of the peak were still held, and the curious vision of 
men hurling down enormous rocks over the steep sides of the 
peak was etched sharply against the glow of the western sky. It 


could not, however, last long, and the Gurkhas forced their way- 
through to the main position only to find it empty. Meanwhile, 
the Pathans had been sent zigzagging up the slope to the north, 
passing through the houses of the monastery almost unscathed. 
To the great regret of all his colleagues. Captain Cr'aster was 
here killed by a matchlock ball fired at point-blank range. The 
Pathans reached the top almost at the same moment that the 
Gurkhas descended upon the jong, and the mingled figures of the 
lanky Pathans and the small Gurkhas were clearly distinguishable 
one from the other against the red glow of the dying sunset. It 
was a beautifully executed manoeuver, and from first to last it was 
thrown into prominence in a way which rarely indeed occurs in 
military operations in these khaki days when gallantry and ca- 
pacity in the field are rarely to be detected at the distance of a 

On the 29th a white flag approached Chang-lo. An armistice 
was demanded for the purpose of negotiations. Colonel Young- 
husband consented to a cessation of hostilities until sunset upon 
the following day, in order to allow time for the arrival of the 
Tibetan representatives in Gyantse. It was agreed that every- 
thing should stand in statu quo during this armistice, but Colonel 
Younghusband made it abundantly clear that no negotiations 
would be entered upon by the British until the Tibetans had 
evacuated the jong and had retired from the neighborhood of 

It was obvious that General Macdonald's action in clearing the 
valley was the immediate cause of these overtures. Subsequent 
events seem to suggest that the whole scheme was a device to 
gain time; certainly the evacuation of the jong was never con- 
templated, and the only practical use which the Tibetans made of 
the armistice was to increase the strength of their fortifications in 
direct contravention of the terms under which it had been granted. 
Just before the expiration of this armistice a messenger arrived 


asking for an extension of time, because the Ta Lama, the chief, 
monk official and one of the four members of the Tibetan Cabinet, 
could not press on beyond Dongtse till the following day. The 
armistice, therefore, was extended by Colonel Younghusband till 
noon on the following day, the ist of July. 

On that day ceremonial visits were paid to Colonel Young- 
husband, both by the Ta Lama and. by the Tongsa Penlop,^ who 
had now joined us with a large retinue from Bhutan. 

The Tongsa Penlop is the actual ruler of his country, and is a 
man of considerable capacity. At the present moment the posi- 
tion of Deb Raja or King of Bhutan remains unfilled. It would 
be the easiest thing in the world for the Tongsa Penlop to have 
himself elected to the vacant post, but he is of that masterful race 
of men which prefers to have the power rather than seem to have 
it. He sees no particular advantage in being nominal as well as 
actual sovereign of his country, especially as there is a certain 
penalty of exclusion imposed upon the position of Deb Raja. He 
is obliged to live the life of a recluse, he is separated from his 
wife and family, and he rarely has the chance of seeing either 
them or any other of his acquaintances. The Tongsa Penlop is 
distinctly of a jovial type, and demurs to these penalties, though 
at the same time he is not entirely willing to sanction the election 
of any other Bhutanese chief to the kirfgship. He is a small man 
with a powerful but plebeian cast of countenance, and his habit of 
perpetually wearing a gray uncloven Homburg hat pressed down 
all round his head to his eyebrows, instead of his official crown, 
does not increase his dignity. That crown is a very handsome or- 
nament. It is composed of a circle of gold, bearing in four places 
the representation of a skull, and, Cleopatra-wise, it is arched 
over the top by a peacock's head in gold and enamel. In theory, 
he came to act as mediator between ourselves and the Tibetans, 
but his unblushing and openly admitted preference for the Eng- 
* The " p " is barely sounded in this name. 


lish was not entirely satisfactory even to us. It suggested a bi- 
ased mind that was likely to interfere with the discharge of his 
delicate and impartial duties, and it almost became too much when 
we found that his men, with his full sanction, took advantage of 
the presence of our troops to harry the land far and wide, and do 
what looting they could on their own account. On the whole, he 
was a cheerful, but not a particularly dignified adjunct to the 

He appeared soon after two o'clock, and in the course of a long 
conversation explained to Colonel Younghusband that the Dalai 
Lama agreed that further war and bloodshed must be stopped, 
and had, in a letter written to himself, nominated the delegates 
for the purpose of negotiating with the invaders. These dele- 
gates were the Ta Lama and the Yutok Shape, both " Kalons " 
or members of the Cabinet, the Tungyig Chempo, one of the Dalai 
Lama's personal secretaries, and, with them, representatives of 
the three great monasteries outside Lhasa. Of these, however, 
we saw the full number only after a long interval, during which 
the advance to Lhasa was in progress. In the middle of the dis- 
cussion the news arrived that the Ta Lama was actually ap- 
proaching under a flag of truce. He was given a formal recep- 
tion, and the following day was appointed for the first audience 
for the purpose of negotiating. 

The proceedings of the 2d of July were picturesque enough, but 
on our side Colonel Younghusband, Mr. White, and Mr. Wilton, 
in their official dark-blue and gold and silver, made a barely re- 
spectable show beside the dazzling brocades of the Tibetan visi- 
tors. The room in which the Durbar was held is decorated from 
end to end, and the rich oil paintings which cover the walls 

* Looting by his attendants in the Nagartse district caused such widespread 
distress that the inhabitants came in to us for food. We had been careful to 
leave enough food in the houses to supply their needs through the winter, and 
to pay for all we took . The Bhutanese came after and deprived the wretched 
peasants of grain and money alike. 


formed a splendid background for the vivid silks of the delegates, 
chrome, copper, and scarlet. The Ta Lama himself was arrayed 
entirely in figured gold silk, except that he wore a golden Chinese 
silk hat turned up with black velvet. The Tungyig Chempo was 
similarly dressed ; the Tongsa Penlop's attire was a closely woven 
Bhutanese stripe, gay enough in itself, but sober beside his splen- 
did companions'. He had bare legs and the Homburg hat. He 
was deferred to by the Tibetans with the utmost respect, and, 
though the Tungyig Chempo, probably the bitterest hater of Eng- 
land that lives in the world, did most of the talking, the Tongsa 
Penlop was always consulted before the Ta Lama assented to his 
young companion's eloquence, or answered a direct question of 
the Colonel's. Very little was done in the way of business ; official 
compliments were exchanged, a formal re-statement of the Tibe- 
tan case was once again elaborately made, and then Colonel 
Younghusband announced the conditions under which alone ne- 
gotiations could proceed. The only feature of any importance 
was that the Tibetans appeared anxious to settle the affair with 
the English themselves, and no reference of any kind whatever 
was made to the Chinese. 

The visitors went away, and the question immediately became 
acute, whether or not the first and primary condition laid down 
by Colonel Younghusband would be conceded. Was the jong 
going to be evacuated or not? On the 3d of July, the Durbar 
arranged for twelve o'clock fell through, because of the non- 
appearance of the Ta Lama. He appeared later on in the day 
and with old-fashioned courtesy apologized for his lateness, 
urging as his excuse the infirmities of his advanced age. The 
Tungyig Chempo made no comments or apologies. This Dur- 
bar also ended without any definite assurances on the part of 
the Tibetans as to the evacuation. They made every attempt 
to gain time and to postpone the moment when they would have 
to decide this all-important question. Colonel Younghusband 


finally gave them till the 5th of July, at twelve o'clock, to come 
to a decision; if they had not surrendered the fort by that hour, 
he assured them that the bombardment would instantly be begun, 
and a state of war would again be declared. 

Thus deprived of any chance of further delay, the delegates 
adopted the fatally easy course of abstention altogether. The 
time, of course, lapsed, and on the 5th of July, at twelve o'clock, 
no sign whatever had been made. General Macdonald was slow 
to begin the work of assault, and, in spite of Colonel Young- 
husband's warning to the Tibetans, it was not till two o'clock 
that the first gun was actually fired. Little was done that day, 
and the Tibetans were allowed ample opportunity to get the 
women and non-combatants away from the jong. A small party 
of Pior^eers reconnoitered to the west of Gyantse town and came 
in contact with the enemy who were defending the encircling 
wall of the monastery, but only a few shots were exchanged. 
The day passed almost quietly, but there was the bustle of 
preparation overnight. 

There had been rain for some days before, but the night of 
the 5th was clear and cloudless. The moon did not rise till 
iDCtween two and three in the morning, and as the three columns 
advanced eastward across the plain to Pala, they had her light 
low in their eyes, over the jagged outline of the distant hills. 
They started from the encampment, about two miles west of 
Chang-lo, at about one o'clock, and making a wide detour, con- 
centrated at the village about three o'clock in the morning. By 
this time the moon was in strength, and as the men turned again 
westward to their objective, the masonry of the high, steep 
rock showed up clearly in its light. The dark masses of gar- 
dens and trees at the foot of the jong were to be occupied first 
hy our men. 

No time was lost, and twenty minutes' silent march brought 
the first attacking parties to their positions a few minutes before 


four. The alarm was given, and a few shots were fired, but it was 
a wild and badly aimed salvo, and no casualties resulted. Two 
gardens are thrust forward on either side of the eastern or 
Lhasan road as it curves round the rock and strikes out into 
the plain. In the darkness there was some confusion, and an 
unfortunate incident occurred which resulted in the re-organiza- 
tion of the storming-column into two parties instead of three, 
as had been originally intended. That under Colonel Campbell 
and Captain Sheppard occupied the garden to the right, where 
they were for some time held in check by a spirited fusillade 
from the housetops before them. At the earliest streak of dawn 
use was made of " Bubble," who had been brought along with 
the column and was now used with terrific effect at point-blank 
range. On the left. Lieutenants Gurdon and Burney, of Major 
Murray's party, gallantly and successfully carried out their 
storming work, and four or five explosions cleared the way for 
a general assault, which rapidly gave us possession of all the 
houses along the southern foot of the rock. While carrying 
out this all-important duty. Lieutenant Gurdon, to the deep sor- 
row of all, met his death. The loss of a man of his caliber was, 
in itself, a severe blow to the force, and the regret was doubled 
by the friendly intimacy which acquaintance during two months 
of investment had necessarily strengthened. He was struck on 
the head by a piece of stone dislodged by his own charge of gun- 
cotton, and death was instantaneous. 

By this time the entire jong was alarmed, and the defenders 
joined, as well as they could, in the fray that was raging at 
the base of the hill, but the steep sides of the rock, and the san- 
gars with which they were crowned, made it difficult for them 
to bring their full armament to bear. From a distance our guns 
and Maxims kept a keen look-out for any parties of Tibetans 
who exposed themselves along the upper slopes or defenses of 
the rock, and their fire, though persistent, was almost unaimed. 


When the sun was fully up, the earlier part of the day's work 
was done. Resistance had been crushed out along the eastern 
and southern bases of the rock, and the Gurkhas had succeeded 
in establishing themselves at a point some fifty feet above the 
houses just where the direct approach to the main gateway, 
now barricaded heavily, turns the last corner. They there came 
in full sight of the Tibetans swarming upon it, and found the 
cul de sac in front of them to be an almost impassable barrier 
even if undefended. 

At this point the day's operations languished ; indeed, as much 
had already been done as the General had intended for the first 
day. He had effected a lodgment in the houses which com- 
manded the south and east of the rock, and on the west the 32d 
Pioneers had pushed forward and were holding two or three 
of the houses to the west of the main street of Gyantse. The 
jong itself remained untouched, and that it was strongly held 
a continued fusillade from the upper works still proved clearly 
enough. These shots were fired chiefly at the two ten-pounders 
and the new seven-pounder guns, under Easton and Marin- 
din, fifty yards in front of the Gurkha post. Except for these, 
all sounds of fighting ceased, and the sun blazed down with 
oppressive heat. The men had been now at work since one in the 
morning, and were tired out. After a while, the enemy them- 
selves realized that they were only wasting their ammunition, 
and silence reigned over the entire position. The Tibetans, just 
before this lull began, concentrated the fire of two small jingals 
upon our right, where the ten-pounders were placed, on the 
north of Pala— between that village and the spur of the hills 
girdling the plain. 

About two o'clock Colonel Campbell, to whom had been 
committed the command of the attacking force, sent across to 
Pala village, where the General was watching operations with 
his staff, urgently recommending that an attack should be made 


at once upon the extreme east of the upper works of the jong. 
The rock of Gyantse is so steep that it seemed accessible no- 
where except along the main approach, which, as has been said, 
was well defended. Any direct attack here would have been 
made not only in the teeth of the gun-fire of the Tibetans hold- 
ing the gate, but also at great danger from the stones rolled down 
by the enemy from the high bastion which flanked the road. 
The postern gate descending to the town on the northern side 
we were not in a position to attack, and we had not, at the mo- 
ment, sufficient men to press round on that side and hold the 
houses which commanded this avenue. 

But at the point which Colonel Campbell chose there was 
just a bare possibility of scaling the rock. It was a fearful 
climb, and the top of it was crowned by a well-made wall flanked 
by two projecting bastions. At first the General was unwilling 
to press forward any farther that day, and was in some doubt 
whether to accede to this request. He determined, however, 
to be guided by the advice of Colonel Campbell on the spot. At 
a little past three, a concentrated fire from all points was or- 
dered to be directed upon the wall at the head of this steep 
climb. The common shell used by the ten-pounders was now 
employed with terrific effect, and one could see, second by second, 
a larger ragged hole being torn open in the wall at this point. 
Clouds of dust rose and slowly drifted away to the west in the 
slight breeze, and whenever a lull in the cannonade allowed a 
clear sight, the breach was wider by a yard or two. A constant 
cataract of dislodged masses of stone and brick fell down the 
face of the rock below, which here was almost sheer for forty 
feet. It was not shell only that did this work. Magazine fire 
was concentrated at the same point, and under this whistling 
canopy of ball and shell, the Gurkhas were soon seen moving 
upward and onward from the houses at the base of the rock. 
It was a moment tense with excitement. Lieutenant Grant was 


in charge of the storming-party, and soon the first figures ap- 
peared over the belt of houses and trees which hem in the rock 
on this side. Instantly the fire redoubled, and from three points 
a converging fire hammered and bit upon the wall above their 

Absolutely confident in the skill of the gunners, the Gurkhas 
climbed on. Not a Tibetan was seen on the wall above, but 
through the loopholes of the bastions a few shots were fired 
which, at what was becoming almost point-blank range, caused 
one or two casualties among the little figures clambering up- 
ward on their hands and knees. To those who watched from a 
distance, it seemed as if more loss was being inflicted when again 
and again one of the escalading force was knocked backward 
by the masses of stone and brick dislodged by our shells. The 
steepness was so great that a man who slipped almost necessarily 
carried away the man below him also. But little by little the 
advance was made, and conspicuous in front of the small com- 
pany was Grant, with one Sepoy, who was clearly determined 
to rival his officer in one of the pluckiest pieces of work ever 
known on the Indian frontier. The men had now reached a 
point fifteen or twenty feet below the level of the breach, and it 
was no longer safe to allow the cannonade to continue. The 
guns had been tested with a success which almost surpasses be- 
lief. The chief danger lay in striking too low and exploding 
the shells on the outside, but not a single,missile had struck the 
rock at the base of the wall. The marksmanship displayed was 
astonishing; inferiority in the gun itself was the only real dan- 
ger to be feared, but these new screw ten-pounders seem to have 
reached mechanical perfection for all practical purposes. 

Just at this moment, when the General himself was issuing 
orders that the fire should cease, the thin, high pipe of the Gur- 
kha bugler cried again and again from the distant rocks in the 
four shrill consecutive notes which call for silence, and silence 


reigned. Then, uncovered by our guns, the last desperate climb 
was made, and up the higher ridges of an ascent so sheer that 
it was almost impossible for our men to protect themselves, 
one or two of these little figures scrambled. They reached at 
last the crumbling wreckage of the Tibetan wall. Lieutenant 
Grant and his faithful follower were the first two men over, 
and the great semi-circle of the watching British force held 
their breath for a second to see if they would be at once shot 
down. For the moment it was two men against all the enemy 
that were in the jong — for the third man slipped and carried 
away in his fall his immediate successor — and it was patent 
enough to all of us that if the Tibetans had but reserved their fire 
and waited in the bastions, they might well have picked off, one 
by one, each man as his head appeared above the breach. 

But hardly a shot was fired. The Tibetans had apparently 
seen in the cessation of the cannonade only a lucky opportunity 
for their own escape, and forty or fifty of them were seen 
crawling and clambering back up and across the rock face to 
the sangars near the barrack and the postern gate. Here, for a 
moment, they did indeed turn and use their matchlocks, but 
these were their last shots. Dividing in a panic into two 
streams, part made for the postern gate, part for the extreme 
western cliff of the rock, where a way had been beaten through 
the wall of the citadel, and two long ropes were hanging down 
over the precipice below, their ends resting on the shelf a hun- 
dred feet beneath. From this coign the Tibetans could, with 
danger and difficulty, scramble down to the shelter of the houses 
at the foot of the rock. 

Meanwhile, Gurkhas, to the number of some twenty or thirty, 
had collected at the breach on the east, and slowly moved for- 
ward, carefully testing the absence of the enemy from each 
building and sangar as they went. Some of the Tibetans fled 
into hiding among the cellars of the rock. The jong, like most 














other Tibetan buildings, is, underground, a labyrinth of dark 
rooms, tortuous passages, and low storehouses. Into them the 
remnant of the enemy fled, hidden in the impenetrable obscurity 
or concealed beneath stacks of dry grass or heaps of rubbish. 
It was dangerous work getting them out, as most of them still 
retained their arms. One small party pushed on straight ahead 
into the citadel, and at last, after meeting with a few spasmodic 
attempts at resistance, climbed from story to story up the rick- 
ety, slippery ladders, to the topmost roof of all, where, attached 
to a prayer-pole which the Tibetans had but recently put up, the 
Union Jack was again seen rippling in the strengthening breeze. 

It was a gallant and successful finale. The climax was a 
dramatic scene which those who saw it will never forget. And 
though it may be invidious to mention them, the names of Lieu- 
tenant Grant, Colonel Campbell, and Captain Sheppard should 
not be forgotten in connection with the exploit. The recapture 
of the jong in this absolute and final manner had a practical 
importance which was even greater in a political than in a mili- 
tary sense. The confidence of the Tibetans in the impregnability 
of their newly strengthened position was perhaps the prime 
cause of their obstinate refusal to negotiate on equal terms with 
us. And there is no doubt that if they had been allowed to retain 
their fort during the negotiations at Chang-lo, it would after- 
ward have been interpreted as evidence of our inferiority. To 
have defended it successfully for some days, or even to have 
inflicted heavy loss upon the expedition during its capture, 
would have encouraged the Tibetans to defend to the utmost 
every other post of vantage along the route to Lhasa, but, as 
it was, a lesson of the first importance was taught the Tibetans, 
and the absence of all opposition henceforward is unquestionably 
due to the exploits of the gunners and the Gurkhas on this day. 

This recapture closed the Gyantse episode of the expedition. 
It was now imperative that an advance should be made to 


Lhasa. Mr. Brodrick cabled from home to that effect, and 
after twelve days' preparation the General was able to continue 
the advance. During that time reconnoitering parties were sent 
out in all directions, Dongtse was occupied, and a small force 
pushed on down the valley till Penam jong was reached. This 
is an imposing structure, but, from a modern point of view, is 
open to every objection to which the apparent impregnability 
of Gyantse had been proved to be liable. Enormous stores of 
grain and tsampa were found in Dongtse. Penam, too, was 
found to contain about twelve thousand pounds of butter^ — a 
fact which cast some doubt upon the bona Udes of the monks of 
the Palkhor Choide in having asked thaf the fine of twenty-five 
maunds might be remitted. 

G)ntradictory reports about the Karo la, about the willingness 
of the monks to fight, about the attitude of the Dalai Lama, and, 
indeed, about everything connected with the Tibetans and their 
policy, were now rife. In the course of these days I made a 
careful inspection of the jong. The scene of the breach itself 
is a striking illustration of the effect of rapid sustained fire. 
Hardly a square yard was left untorn by bullet or fragment of 
shell. The jong itself had not been greatly altered, except by the 
low sangars and the other improvements introduced by the 
Tibetans during the days of armistice. Very few of the bigger 
jingals were found in place, and an explosion which took place 
during our assault had set fire to, and destroyed, some part of 
the timbering of the casemates in which they were placed. Two 
or three of the larger ones were afterward found where the 
Tibetans had buried them. One of the most extraordinary fea- 
tures of the fight was the amount of casualties suffered by the 
enemy on the postern descent of the jong. This was regarded 

*Thi3 Tibetan butter is kept in tight cornered leather sacks firmly stitched 
down. It is strengthened with fat and lard and seems to keep indefinitely, 
though from the first the smell of it is somewhat rancid. 


by us as almost completely protected by the walls which had been 
built during the investment of Chang-lo, but I counted nearly 
forty dead men down this descent, fifteen of them lying together 
in such a way as suggested that one exploding shrapnel shell 
had accounted for all of them. Our casualties during this week 
were low indeed. Cr'aster and Gurdon had been killed and, in 
all, six officers had been wounded slightly, one more seriously. 
Of the men, we had lost but three killed and twenty-six wounded, 
of whom, however, two died of their wounds within twenty-four 

A rapid interchange of communications ensued between 
Younghusband and the authorities at Simla and in London, and 
at last, on the morning of the 14th, the advance to Lhasa was 
definitely begun. 




THE force moved out from Gyantse for the march to Lhasa 
on the morning of the 14th of July; rain had fallen for two 
or three days, and the road, especially where it crossed the fertile 
valley of the Nyang chu, was bad; later on the sharp cut trang 
by the side of the Nyeru chu afforded a good enough passage. 
In spite of the drizzling rain, which delayed the march for 
one hour, and lasted well on into the later hours of the morn- 
ing, the outlook of the great Gyantse plain was changed for the 
better indeed since we had seen it last. For more than two 
months we had been shut up at Chang-lo, and during that time 
the vegetation and the cultivation of the valley had advanced 
by leaps and bounds. 

Nothing is more vivid in Tibet than the glaring patches of 
chrome yellow mustard flower at this period. Square cut, and 
always level, they light up the dark gorges and the river flats, 
in a way of which it is difficult to give any idea. For the rest, 
clematis and larkspur are the most noticeable varieties of plants. 
The rain, which had kept off during the middle of the day, fell 
again during the evening, and tents were pitched at Ma-lang, 
in a dull and depressing downpour. The exact position of the 
camp could be ascertained by a traveler who noticed a curious 
series of horizontal flaws of vivid pink-stained limestone, cross- 
ing through the cliffs on the northern side of the valley, just 
where the valley flats open out in a sandy, stone-strewn stretch. 
There are a few ragged and neglected adobe walls here, evi- 



dences of a long-abandoned village, and across the stream there 
is a small group of houses, perhaps four in number. Nothing 
of any importance occurred, except that the rain, which held 
off during the night, descended again at six o'clock on the 
following morning. 

To some readers, rain may seem a small matter in these alti- 
tudes, and so long at any rate as the march is conducted over 
hard rock floors, there does not seem much danger of its causing 
either ill-health or delay. But where speed is of the utmost 
possible importance, and where the transport has therefore been 
cut down to its utmost necessary compass, rain is one of the most 
dangerous accidents which can befall a flying column. Sleeping 
in wet clothes, night after night, is not after all as dangerous 
an occupation as dwellers in cities are apt to think. But the real 
crux is, that where tents must of necessity be used by troops 
on the march, the difference in sheer weight caused by the satu- 
ration of canvas is almost incredible, and where every beast 
of burden is already loaded with the last additional pound which 
common sense permits, a steady rain-storm daily will of itself 
ruin an expedition's mobility, and almost its chances of success. 
Still there was a sufficient margin, for Bretherton and Mac- 
donald had allowed in their calculations for the extra strain 
of a long forced march, and therefore had seen to it that com- 
paratively light loads were originally distributed among the 
beasts. They had also carefully weeded out the weaker animals 
trom the various corps, and had, in consequence, a thoroughly 
well-equipped transport service for this 150-mile dash. Thus 
it was that the rain proved no worse than an inconvenience, 
though only those who have experienced it can know the in- 
tolerable dreariness of sitting down on wet earth in pouring rain, 
waiting hour after hour for the arrival and the pitching of the 
already soaked tents. My own servants were, perhaps, for this 
particular work, the best in the Mission camp, and though in 


all human probability neither of them will ever read this book, 
I should like to render them a moment's tribute for the constant 
cheerfulness and alacrity with which they generally managed 
to set up my tent among the first.* After tents had been 
pitched, and beds screwed together, or valises unrolled, the 
native servants set to work to prepare the evening meal. This 
is a business in which the Indian servant stands unrivaled; at 
a time when there was absolutely no dry thing within a quarter 
of a mile, except the interior of one's boxes and one's bed — 
and not always those — these servants will somehow manage to 
obtain a fire from wood that is demonstrably wet, and when an 
Indian cook has been given a fire and a couple of stew-pans, 
there is very little that he cannot perform, within the conven- 
tional limits of camp cookery. 

There is not very much to report about this second passage 
by the side of the river to Ra-lung. On the next day, we 
passed Gobshi, and- encamped a quarter of a mile west of Long- 
ma in a pitiless downpour. On the third day from Gyantse, 
we reached Ra-lung, and encamped a little way farther along 
the same plateau upon which Colonel Brander had pitched his 
tents in the first week in May. The short vegetation was rank, 
and surprisingly bright, but no trees, of course, were to be seen 
after we had left behind the willows of Kamo and Long-ma. 
The mounted infantry, of course, preceded us day after day, 
and by their reports the length of the next day's journey was 
decided. On the evening of the i6th, news was brought in 

^Really good servants are rare indeed on the Eastern Himalayan frontier. 
One of mine, the syce Tsering, has been taken into the service at the Resi- 
dency of Sikkim. The other, my bearer, is, I believe, still attached to the 
Rockville Hotel at Darjeeling. His name is Singh Bir, and if this slight men- 
tion of his services to me during this expedition may recommend him to others 
who wish to obtain a thoroughly capable personal and camp servant, I shall be 
glad. At a time when other servants were deserting daily in sheer terror, 
Singh Bir remained steady, though when pressed he admitted his conviction 
that we were as good as dead men already if we tried to reach Lhasa. 


that the wall on the Karo la had been lengthened and reinforced 
by a parallel wall 200 yards behind it. Great activity on the 
enemy's part was reported, and the small column prepared for a 
sharp engagement on the i8th. The composition of the little 
force may as well be set down here; it consisted of six guns of 
the 7th Mountain Battery (ten pounders), and two guns of the 
30th Mountain Battery (seven pounders), with the Maxim of 
the Norfolk Regiment. There were also half a company of the 
3d Sappers, and the first and second companies of mounted in- 
fantry — 200 men in all. Of infantry, there were the head- 
quarters and four companies of the Royal Fusiliers; one com- 
pany of the 23d Pioneers; headquarters and four companies of 
the 32d Pioneers, headquarters and six companies of the 40th 
Pathans, and headquarters and six companies of the 8th Gur- 
khas. There was one section of a British Field Hospital and 
two and a half sections of a Native Field Hospital, while about 
3,000 mules drawn from the 7th, 9th, ipth, and 12th Mule Corps 
acted as transport. Besides these beasts, there were also about 
250 yaks, and two Coolie Corps. 

This was a well-equipped and self-contained little force, and 
there was no doubt whatever, that what Colonel Brander had 
been able to do with less than 350 men in May, this column 
could easily achieve in the middle of July. But the peculiar 
difficulty of forcing the Karo la lies, it will be remembered, in 
the fact that the wall built by the Tibetans crossed the gorge 
just where two ice-fields 2,000 feet above the floor of the valley 
render a turning movement impossible on either side. The 
wall itself was, as we know, of magnificent proportions, and 
as we were, from the reason mentioned, almost committed to a 
direct attack, if full use had been made by the Tibetans of 
their unique position, we naturally expected that some severe 
loss on our side was inevitable. We moved on from Ra-lung, 
on the 17th, to the Plain of Milk. 


Over the Gom-tang plain foxes and gazelles moved away as 
we approached. Fine grass covered the quagmires vv^ith which 
the plain is carpeted, and in between the tussocks, where the clear 
brown water straggled, tiny pink primulas lay out in the sun ; 
through the gorge below the glaciers of Nichi-kang-sang, we 
passed young tender nettles and purple flowers, which looked 
like drooping cowslips ; saxifrage was there, with white blossoms, 
and vetches, both purple and blue. Almost on the same spot 
as that on which Colonel Brander's force encamped a halt was 
made for the night. Macdonald himself went out, and from 
a distance reconnoitered the position. He found that the reports 
were true, and that a second wall had been built almost across 
the valley ; but this was not all, for the Tibetans had learned the 
use, for the purpose of defense, of advanced sangars, and these 
had been built on both sides of the gorge, right up to the crown- 
ing cornice from which the Pioneers two months before had, 
after a terrible climb, dislodged the defenders of the single san- 
gar down below. 

But the Tibetans' courage was oozing away. They have since 
admitted that the fame of our guns was widely spread in all 
parts of the country, and the fact that the cornice above referred 
to was held may, perhaps, have been the reason why our oppo- 
nents did not stay to defend the position they had chosen with 
such care. For from that cornice they could see over the Karo 
la itself on to the Plain of Milk, and there they could see with 
unpleasant plainness the slow accumulations of men, munitions, 
beasts, and tents which accompanied our march. It is difficult 
to say when the bulk of the enemy deserted their defenses, but 
on the following morning, when the first line, composed of four 
companies of the Fusiliers, flanked on either side by Gurkhas, 
moved out of camp to the attack, the only position that was 
still found held by the enemy in any way was the high cliff to 
which we have repeatedly drawn attention. They indeed fired 


but one or two shots, but they could no longer be allowed to 
remain in their position to threaten our advance or our com- 
munications, and the Gurkhas were sent up to clear them out. 
On this occasion, actual fighting took place at a height of nearly 
19,000 feet above sea-level. One of the officers engaged on this 
day told me that the physical strain thereby involved was almost 
intolerable. On one occasion he had succeeded in hauling him- 
self up to a small plateau, defended at its farther end by a 
Tibetan sangar; he had with him five men: there was no cover 
available, so he at once gave the word to charge. The space 
was not more than thirty yards long, but before they had gone 
fifteen, the little force of six men, careless of the Tibetan fire, 
had flung themselves on the ground almost fainting, and in some 
cases positively sick. But in spite of these obstacles the work was 
done, and very well done, and slowly the remaining Tibetans, who 
were for the most part men from Kams, were driven out from 
their rocky eyries, from which they had kept up an ineffectual fire 
upon our men, to seek refuge across the bitter white slopes, or in 
the aquamarine crevasses of the snow-fields behind them. After 
a long delay the General moved on down the valley, beyond the 
wall, which was totally undefended, only to find that some of the 
enemy were still escaping by the steep shale slope, immediately 
to the east of it. The Pathans were sent up this height, which 
overlooks the ice-bound tarn to which I have before referred; 
here, also, many of the Tibetans escaped by plunging boldly 
across the ice-fields of the glaciers to the south, where none 
of our men were able to follow them. But the position they 
had held was cleared, and the column moved on in safety, two 
miles down the valley beyond Dzara, to the night's halting 

Below the Karo la, the aspect of the valley undergoes a 
marked change ; of trees there are still none, and only the appear- 
ance of the vivid sky-blue Tibetan poppy distinguishes the flora 


of this pass. This is beyond question the most striking flower 
that we saw throughout the entire journey. It was found ex- 
panding its crinkling crepe-de-chine silk petals in the sand among 
the rocks at the Karo la, and it remained with us until we de- 
scended to the valley of the Tsang-po. The height varies from 
five inches to fifteen, the leaves and stalks are covered with sharp, 
stiff spines, and the color is the most vivid blue t have seen in 
a plant, far exceeding in strength and purity the forget-me-not, 
or the germander speedwell.* Aconite or, as we know it in Eng- 
land, monkshood, is unfortunately common, and the utmost 
care was needed to prevent the beasts of the transport from crop- 
ping the tall pyramids of gray-purple and gray-green flowers 
which spring beside the roads and dot the damper levels of the 
plain. Blue five-inch gentians grow in profusion here, and stout 
patches of the little sunflower gardeners know as Gerbera Jame- 

But the Alpine flora was not yet fully out; the rocks which 
hem in the valley of the Karo chu dominated the scene. They 
deserve special mention, for the high bastions and curtains of 
these thousand-feet precipices run for miles. The little cones of 
rufous debris which reach upward from the ground to every 
chimney and channel of the cliff do not detract from the extra- 
ordinary abruptness with which these red barriers leap up- 
ward to the sky, towering aloft sheer from the stream on either 
side. The river, too, is worth a note. All morning, after the 
bitter frost has bound up the leaks of the encircling but invisible 
glaciers overhead, the stream runs clearly enough, but toward 
evening the main flow from the eastern side of the ice-fields of 
Nichi-kang-sang hurls itself into the river like a flood of anti- 
mony, so black and leaden are the waters. 

In these scenes we pitched our camp for the night, and con- 
sidered the advance we had made. 

^ I sent roots home to Madresfield and Burwash, but I am afraid nothing 

has survived. 


The official estimate of the importance of this operation seems 
misleading ; it is probable that not more than 200 Tibetans were 
holding the southern cornice west of the wall, and about the 
same number tried to escape by the slope of shale to the east.* 
On the next day, the 19th of July, I went down the stream on 
the right bank with Mr. Claude White, who was taking a series 
of photographs. The long line of the column crept along under 
the high scarp to the north. As we rode beside it all day long 
we saw partridges, foxes, hares, and marmots of a larger kind 
than those which honeycomb the Phari plain. The flora of the 
valley itself remains inconspicuous here, for the high cliffs 
which bind it in prevent the growth of plants ; only jagged slate 
edges and grasses moving in the wind decorated the trang along 
which the column moved. On the other side of the river we 
found much dwarf edelweiss and some stumpy reeds. But the 
rocky formation of the ground was still the most important fea- 
ture of the scene. At last the Yam-dok tso appeared in the far 
distance, a blue, quivering line, which one could swear was but 
a mirage. Soon after that, on turning the corner, Nagartse 
jong was seen, three miles away across the plain. We moved 
slowly upon it, and thereupon heard that the Tibetan delegates, 
who had fled from Gyantse, were ready to meet us, and requested 
an audience. We went on, and camped a quarter of a mile from 
the jong on a rising patch of dried ground. The Yam-dok tso 
and its little sister, the Dumu tso, were glittering in the sun 
below the unfolding hills. 

Twenty years have passed since Ugyen Gyatso, one of the best 
of our native explorers, corrected, inadequately enough, but to 
the best of his ability, the traditional delusion as to the shape 
of the Sacred Lake of Tibet. Traveling in disguise and almost 
by stealth, his opportunities were limited, but his map of the 

* This latter number alone was, however, reckoned as 800 by the headquar- 
ters staff. I have throughout this book given numbers and facts that seem 
to me to accord with observations taken during the day, and generally accepted 
by impartial eye-witnesses. 


Yam-dok tso was the first improvement upon D'Anville's 1735 
design, and it is probable that to this day the common concep- 
tion of this strange sheet of water is that originated by the 
Jesuit-taught Lamas of 17 17, and repeated without any great 
variation by every atlas down to 1884. But the Yam-dok tso 
is by no means a symmetrical ring of water surrounding a similar 
ring of land.* Lieutenant-Colonel Waddell uses the happy ex- 
pression " scorpionoid " to describe its real shape. 

It is not, perhaps, surprising that our ignorance of what is 
undoubtedly the most interesting inland sea of Asia should have 
been so profound. Its claim to sacred isolation has been re- 
spected far more than that of Lhasa itself. For every one who 
has ever set eyes on the Yam-dok tso, four or five foreigners have 
seen Lhasa. Indeed, we do not certainly know that before this 
expedition any Europeans except Manning and della Penna's 
company had ever passed along the margin of the long, narrow 
waters which mean so much to the superstitious Tibetan peas- 
ant, and from Manning, the incurious, we learn little indeed, 
except that the water is bad— a wholly misleading statement, 
for though the taste is somewhat alkaline, neither salt nor entirely 
fresh, it is wholesome and clean. 

The Tibetans themselves, besides the name Yam-dok tso, or 
"High Grazing Lake," use another, "Yu-tso," or the "Turquoise 
Lake," and it is impossible to describe more exactly the exquisite 
shade of blue-green which colors the waters under even the most 
brilliant azure skies. Near inshore the innumerable ripples are, 
indeed, blown in over the white-sanded floor as colorlessly as 
wavelets on a South Pacific strand of white coral, but twenty 
yards out the bottom drops suddenly, and the lake glows deeply 
with the color from which it takes its name. 

On shore, dotted severally over the wide, clean shelf of sand 
and grit and pebble, a white drift into which one sinks to the 
^ Some maps recognized that this " island " incloses an inner lake. 


ankles, great nettles grow rudely, only yielding place to the 
waving hoof-track— there are no wheels in Tibet— which follows 
the curve of the beach. Above it, feathery green plants of worm- 
wood, transfixed by the dead brown bents of last year, crowd 
downward from the steep banks, on which sturdy bushes of bar- 
berry and wholesome English dog-rose flourish as well as the 
crowding weight of " traveler's joy " allows. Over that again, 
in the clefts of the flawed rocks or between the tussocks of the 
grassy hill slopes, where the yaks and goats graze, spring prickly 
poppies, sky-blue and purple, spikes of lemon-yellow foxgloves, 
and primulas and oxlips of half a dozen shades. Here and 
there is cultivation, and wherever the stunted barley crop is sown 
comes, too, a sweeping carpet of forget-me-not, eighteen inches 
in height, and blue with a virility and strength unknown to the 
pale myosotis of English ditches. In the grass flats of fine 
closely cropped turf, which here and there join the foreshore to 
the hills, is a jetsam of green, low-growing lilies, as yet only star- 
ring the ground with their flat leaves, but bearing aloft on their 
stalks a promise of sturdy flowers to come. Opposite, across 
the mile-wide strip of water, the steep, green-velveted hills of 
the " island " rise out of their own reflections, checkered here and 
there by the vivider green of cultivation or the dull moving con- 
trast of cloud shadows. 

There is, perhaps, much excuse for the old belief that the 
Yam-dok tso is indeed a ring of water, for in the two wide 
places where the great circle is broken the shaking stretch of 
black mud is even now more kin to water than to land. It is 
fair enough to see, with its wastes of green reeds and hummocks 
of primula-strewn grass, but it is merely a quagmire, across 
which it is dangerous to walk, and impossible to lead a horse. 
A hundred years ago it must have been shallows— a thou- 
sand years ago, perhaps, the old level betrayed on the hillsides 
to this day was awash. Forty feet added to the present height 


of the water would change the shape of the lake curiously 

As it is, perhaps to Tibetan eyes the quagmires that repre- 
sent the retreating lake have their special value too, for three 
miles of bog separated the orderly tents of our camp at Nagartse 
from the thrice-holy buildings of Samding convent, where the 
reincarnated Dorje Phagmo, or pig-goddess, bears rule over 
one of the most venerated foundations in the land. While we 
were in the neighborhood the buildings were deserted, but the 
occupants will return to find them untouched. Not a turquoise 
has been taken from their shrines, not a dainty little brass image 
will be found missing from their inventories; hardly a foot has 
been allowed to cross the threshold, because unconsciously the 
lady abbess once nursed in sickness a subject of Queen Victoria. 
They will never know the reason, and beyond doubt a special 
miracle will soon be credited to account for the stern prohibi- 
tion which saved the monastery from violation of any kind. 

It may be a vain piece of advice, for there is no doubt that 
even now as I write Tibet has again been trebly barred against 
the foreigner; but if by force or fraud another traveler shall 
find himself at Nagartse, let him go ten miles to the southeast 
and climb the saddle of the Ta la. 

There are few sights in the world like that which is seen 
from the peak in which the saddle ends to the east. Below 
lie both the outer and the inner lakes, this following with counter- 
indentations the in-and-out windings of the other's shore-line. 
The mass and color of the purple distance is Scotland at her best 
— Scotland, too, in the slow drift of a slant- woofed raincloud 
in among the hills. At one's feet the water is like that of the 
Lake of Geneva. But the tattered outline of the beach, with its 
projecting lines of needle-rocks, its wide, white, curving sand- 
pits, its jagged islets, its precipitous spurs, and, above all, the 
mysterious tarns strung one beyond another into the heart of 


the hills, all these are the Yam-dok's own, and not another's. If 
.you are lucky, you may see the snowy slopes of To-nang gar- 
tered by the waters, and always on the horizon are the everlasting 
ice-fields of the Himalayas, bitterly ringing with argent the sun 
and color of the still blue lake. You will not ask for the added 
glories of a Tibetan sunset; the gray spin and scatter of a rain- 
threaded after-glow, or the tangled sweep of a thunder-cloud's 
edge against the blue, will give you all you wish, and you will 
have seen the finest view in all this strange land. 

Here and there along the shore to north and south rise half- 
ruined castles as harmonious, as inevitable, as everything else in 
this high enchanted valley. There they stand, foursquare, red- 
dish-brown bulks of native quarrying, crumbling everywhere and 
sometimes fallen, now laying bare the long abandoned economy 
of an upper story through a shattered corner, now, lower down, 
betraying the emptiness of a bastioned courtyard at the base of 
the tower. The rock-cresses and the saxifrages have long estab- 
lished themselves between the crevices of the stones, and on their 
old, worn surfaces the somber mosses and vivid orange and black 
lichens spread themselves in the pure air and sunlight. Overhead, 
among the beflagged sheaves at the corners of the keep, the ravens 
hop heavily and cry, and along the shore the seagulls dip and 

Hidden behind Pe-di or Nagartse jong, against the slope of 
a hill, are a few white, straitened hovels in tiers, banded myste- 
riously with red and crowned with brown cornices and broken 
parapets. On the door of each is a kicking swastika in white, and 
over it a rude daub of ball and crescent. 

At the street corners the women stand, one behind another, 
peeping and curious. Men, too, are there, who stare with eyes 
that cannot understand. Nowhere in Tibet has our incursion 
meant less to the people than here, up at the Yam-dok tso, and 
one feels that in years to come the passing and repassing beside 


the holy waters of the unending Hne of our quick-stepping, even- 
loaded mules and tramping, dust-laden men with light-catching 
rifle barrels, will only take its proper place among the myriad 
other and equally mysterious legends that wrap with sanctity the 
waters of this loveliest of all lakes. 

Nagartse is the best-known town between Gyantse and Lhasa ; 
it is placed upon a neck of land, which joins the jong to the hills 
behind. The rock on which the jong stands must at one time have 
been lapped by the waters of the lake, but at the present time the 
Yam-dok tso has retreated so far, that a quashy stretch of vivid 
green quagmire spreads between the road and the shore. The 
jong itself is of no great interest. It is the usual ramshackle con- 
geries of unsteady walls and uneven floors, and, except the rooms 
which were at this time occupied by the Ta Lama, and afterward 
tenanted by Lieutenant Moody, who was left in command of the 
post, two small chapels are the only rooms which are still rain- 
tight. As I have said, Samding lies five miles across the plain — 
five miles of quaking bog, intersected by the deep-cut channel, 
whereby part of the waters of the Karo chu are led into the lake. 
As an illustration of the mistake made by other surveyors in as- 
serting that the lake in the center of the so-called " island " is 
500 feet higher than that of the Yam-dok tso itself, it may be 
mentioned that the Karo chu divides itself just where it debouches 
into the plain, and one section glides placidly into the waters of 
each lake. There is, as a matter of fact, not a difference of six 
feet in the level of the two waters. 

One has to go some way to convince oneself that the Dumu tso 
and the Yam-dok tso are indeed distinct pieces of water. Only 
a narrow neck of land, a hundred yards in width, divides them, 
and this obstacle cannot be seen until you approach very near. On 
the top of a promontory hard by, Mr. Claude White and I took 
a series of photographs, including a panoramic view of the lakes. 
These photographic excursions had a special interest of their own. 


At the wise discretion of the Indian authorities, the transport of 
the column was burdened to the extent of three mules' loads, 
with the large 13 by 10 camera and innumerable plates. Mr. 
White's servants have become experts in the art of carrying and 
setting up this cumbersome instrument, and Mr. White himself 
is a first-rate photographer. Sending the plates back to India was 
a tedious and uncertain process, but I am glad to hear that from 
this cause very few plates were broken or lost. 

As I have said, the Ta Lama again met us at Nagartse jong, 
and with him were the Tungyig Chempo and the Chi-kyap Kenpo. 
Their position had now become desperate; their instructions had 
been from the beginning to stop our advance to Lhasa. They 
were given no powers to carry on final negotiations. The views 
of the Dalai Lama were repeated to them in one unvarying order : 
" Get these English out of my country again at once." How this 
was to be done they neither knew nor cared in Lhasa; the un- 
happy delegates were given no authority to make a concession of 
any kind, and they knew better than to act in this matter on their 
own initiative. One would have thought that a man like the Dalai 
Lama would at last have realized that he was dealing with an op- 
ponent who was not in the least impressed by his religious pre- 
tensions. He should have realized that at last we were in earnest, 
and whether he was willing or not to come to any definite arrange- 
ment with us at the time, he should at least have sent men armed 
with sufficient authority for them to open up a discussion, which 
would soon have shown whether it was wiser or not for the La- 
maic hierarchy to make a total surrender of their claims. As it 
was, these unhappy men, the Ta Lama, the Chi-kyap Kenpo— 
and here the Yu-tok Shape also— were reduced to the useless ex- 
pedient of repeating a parrot-cry without arguments or authority 
of any kind. It is significant that at one moment during these 
negotiations of the 19th of July the Ta Lama, poor old man, 
burst out with an unveiled threat. He said, " If you will make an 


agreement elsewhere we will observe it ; if you will go to Lhasa, 
and make an agreement there, you may get it signed, but we will 
not observe it." 

During one of these meetings a skirmish took place between 
Captain Souter and his mounted infantry and the armed retinue 
of the delegates, who, in defiance of an agreement, were attempt- 
ing to escape and give information of our numbers and composi- 
tion. The Tibetan officials were much mortified at the detection 
of this scheme. 

It was increasingly apparent that Nature had come to the as- 
sistance of the Tibetans' determination to keep their country iso- 
lated in more ways than by mere physical obstacles. How could 
one carry on negotiations with such men as these ; and, in the cir- 
cumstances in which we found ourselves, how could we insure 
that relations, even of the friendliest sort, would continue for even 
a year after our departure ? General Macdonald made no secret 
of his personal opinion that the political ends of the expedi- 
tion could be better arrived at by instant negotiation, than 
by carrying out the letter of the orders which had been re- 
ceived by Colonel Younghusband. To this the Colonel could 
only reply, again and again, that even were he of Macdonald's 
opinion, which he most emphatically was not, he was still com- 
pelled to carry out the definite orders of the Government ; he was 
to go to Lhasa, and make a treaty there. Simla was somewhat 
amused at this spectacle. As a rule, it is with the utmost diffi- 
culty that a political Commissioner can restrain the military aspi- 
rations of his escort, and generally has to fall back upon the dis- 
tinct orders of the Government, to compel his acquiescence in a 
non-military solution of the difficulties. Here the roles were re- 
versed with a vengeance. 

At Nagartse jong we stayed one day, and on the 21st we 
moved on by the side of the lake, past the little fishing villages of 


Gya, Tu, and Badi,^ to the Bridge of Good Luck, or Kal-sang 
Sampa. This bridge has been referred to by Chandra Das, but 
his description of it as an embankment more than 100 yards long 
is wholly inaccurate. There is here a small pond of a level some- 
what higher than the lake, and divided from it by a neck of land, 
with one sluice gate cut through it, over which a roughly piled 
stone causeway, twenty yards long, is carried. It is often believed 
that the Rong chu runs through from the lake into the Tsang-po. 
This is not true, for there Is a rising fold of ground, about three 
miles above this pond, which makes a watershed between the 
two. Yarsig lies a mile west-north-west of the Kal-sang Sampa, 
but it was not visited except by a few mounted infantry. It is a 
squalid collection of huts and houses. At the Bridge of Good 
Luck we encamped after a march of twelve miles from Nagartse. 
On the next day, the 22d, a short march of five miles brought us 
to Pe-di jong, which stands prominently on the very edge of the 
lake, just where the mountainous " island " ^ approaches most 
nearly to the northern shore, Pe-di jong is not one of the official 
fortresses belonging to the Tibetan Government, but we did not 
discover the name of its private owner. Like so many other Tibe- 
tan buildings, this one is fast falling to pieces, and one or two 
small demolitions, necessitated by our subsequent use of the place 
as a fortified post, will probably hurry on the inevitable ruin of 
the whole. One threads one's way past slippery stones, through 
which the nettles rise rankly, skirting a pool of liquid filth by get- 
ting close under the wall, then up some slimy, broken steps into 
the darkness of a passage, wherein you stumble along till a gray- 
ish square of light at the farther end shows you where the stairs 

*The names of these villages as they appear on maps are entirely inaccu- 
rate. On my return journey at Nagartse I took pains to find out the real 
names from Lieutenant Moody (in whose district they all lie), as he had 
made it his business to find them out from their headmen. 

* The native name for this peninsula is " Do-rang," or " stony house." 


are placed. Tibetan staircases are no ordinary things. The angle 
at which the stairs are placed is somewhat steeper than that at 
which an English ladder is ordinarily used; the treads are long 
and very narrow pieces of poplar wood, either worn into a slant, 
at which no foothold is possible, or tipped with iron, upon which 
the nails in one's boots slide mercilessly. The only handrail is a 
highly polished wooden willow-pole, which slants from the lowest 
step at an angle more perpendicular than that of the steps. They 
are more difficult to come down than to go up, and this is saying 
a good deal. On the third story of Pe-di jong are the living 
rooms, the only really habitable ones in the place ; the rest of the 
building keeps the rain out, and that is about all. Here, however. 
Lieutenant Dalmahoy, with a company of Pathans, was left in 
charge, while on the 23d the force moved to their camping- 
ground, a mile short of the little village of Trama-lung. From 
this point the road over the Kamba la rises abruptly to the north ; 
the road beside the lake presents no very interesting features, and 
two things alone arrested our attention. The first was a curious 
example of the cup marks which indented an artificially smoothed 
surface at shoulder height above the road, just where it doubled 
a rocky spur. These cup marks are referred to later as a char- 
acteristic of Lhasa also. A mile and a half further on we found 
that the Tibetans had built a wall across the road, choosing its po- 
sition with some skill. The sharp-cut fresh turfs with which 
they had crowned the wall and a little house, just where it ter- 
minated over the lake, proved that it had not been built for long. 
We arrived at our camping-ground before twelve o'clock, and I 
went up to the summit of the hills which divide the Yam-dok tso 
from the basin of the Tsang-po in order that I might, if possible, 
catch the first glimpse of the Potala. 

Kawa-guchi, the Japanese traveler, reported that from the 
Kamba la he had seen the palace, and the villagers of Trama-lung 
proudly claim for this spot the first sight of the Forbidden City. 


There can be no question of the direction in which, if at all, this 
first glimpse of Lhasa is to be obtained. Looking carefully 
through glasses, I saw a minute, symmetrically shaped dot of 
gray, just visible over one of the intervening spurs. I do not 
know to this day whether that were really Lhasa or not. It was 
certainly in the exact position, but it was entirely impossible from 
that distance for a stranger to be sure, even had the day remained 
clear. Afterward, nothing was certainly distinguishable. There 
were so many subsequent misstatements made as to the identity 
of Potala, that I would not do more than suggest to another trav- 
eler, following upon our track upon a clearer day, that it may be 
worth while to substantiate or refute the claims of the villagers 
of Trama-lung. 

The remainder of the day was spent by a good many officers 
in fishing. At Yarsig, on the evening of the 21st, the waters of 
the lake were found to be full of fish, which had rashly crowded 
into the shallows by the shore, and were easily captured by the 
hand. Major Iggulden and Mr. Vernon Magniac were the most 
industrious fishermen of the force, and it may be news to some of 
the disciples of Izaak Walton that in Lhasa these two men habitu- 
ally caught from 60 to 70 fish in an afternoon. These fish were 
generally called trout, but this was merely a convenient mis- 
nomer. The essential feature of a member of the family of 
Salmonidse is the presence of dorsal fins, which were wanting 
in these trout-like fish. The presence of minute barbels also dis- 
proved their claim to belong to the salmon tribe. In color they 
varied. Some were of glittering silver, heavily mottled with 
splashes of rich blue-black; others were of a quieter pattern of 
greenish and yellowish gray. Their bones are bifurcated and 
innumerable, and the flesh was consequently hardly worth the 
trouble of eating. 

On the 24th, we crossed the Kamba la, and descended 3,000 
feet into the valley of the Tsang-po. There are two passes over 


this cup edge of the Yam-dok tso. The other, the Nabso la, was 
used by the troops on their return journey. There is not much to 
choose between them, but the ascent of the Kamba la from the 
Tsang-po is terribly severe, the entire rise of 3,000 feet being 
accomplished in about five miles. From a halting place about 200 
feet before the pass is reached from the Yam-dok tso, a wide view 
can be had of the lake from east to west, and I suppose that few 
travelers, even the most unobservant, have ever reached this last 
point without halting to look at the magnificent scene at their 
feet. Trama-lung lies below one in a deep, short valley of which 
the head rests against the barrier of the Kamba la itself. It is 
a plainly built little cluster of flat roofs, bearing every sign of 
poverty and insignificance. To right and left of it sweeps the blue 
of the lake, which had deepened in intensity with every step up- 
ward that we took. Once on the other side of the pass, the culti- 
vated fields of the Tsang-po valley stretch out beneath the trav- 
eler on either side of the sandy river-bed, intersected with its 
innumerable channels. The ferry by which we had to cross at 
Chak-sam was not now visible, but we could see a hide boat being 
slowly manoeuvered across the yellow waters of the great river. 
The road to Shigatse branches off at the very level of the pass, and 
, curves by a very slight gradient to the west ; its course is invisible 
in a quarter of a mile behind a projecting spur. 

The track to the Tsang-po descends abruptly to the little vil- 
lage of Kamba-partsi, where, compared with those we had left 
behind, the greater prosperity and comfort of the buildings on the 
shores of the Tsang-po and its tributaries were at once apparent. 
Poplars, willows, and large thorn trees dotted the lower slopes of 
the valley, and there were several cultivated fields, lying imme- 
diately round the hamlet. 

As we came down the slope of the valley we could see more 
closely the body of the great river which barred our passage. It 
was a fast-running yellow stream, swirling even then with deep- 


toned irritation round the jutting rocky promontories of the shore, 
and tearing away at the crumbHng cliffs of sand within which it 
was confined. The volume of water, even at this date, was con- 
siderable, for though narrow the main channel is very deep. But 
it was not so much the existing state of the river that gave us 
some prospect of anxiety, as its obvious liability to an enormous 
expansion ; the sand islets and eyots that parceled out the waters 
of the Tsang-po were bare of vegetation, and it was easy to see 
that in a few weeks' time they would be swept a foot deep by the 
swollen waters, which even then were gathering strength, far to 
the west, beside Lake Mansarowar. 

Kamba-partsi is a prettily placed little village under trees of 
considerable age; the sentinel is a double-willow of great anti- 
quity, writhen into the shape of an 8, keeping guard at the en- 
trance of the hamlet. Lower down, divided from the water's 
edge by a level strip of sand, was a rectangular plantation of wil- 
low-trees with a low wall running round it. Here the camps of 
the Mission and of the headquarters of the escort were pitched; 
outside there is a more than usually elaborate camping-ground for 
their Holinesses when traveling. The altar and reredos are of 
adobe, set up facing the ravine down which the Kamba la descent 
drops, with its sanctuary in front, carpeted with a neat cobble of 
white quartzite, edged with raw splinters of basalt. Inside the 
inclosure the most striking things were the cockchafers; I have 
never seen so many cockchafers in my life ; they lay in thousands, 
either dying on the ground beneath the trees, or clinging, like dis- 
eased growths of pink and gray, to the branches of the pollarded 
willows above. When they flew there was a flash of pink under- 
wing, and the sudden extinction of the color when they alighted 
on the self-tinted ground made their disappearance almost un- 
canny. They buzz round and round the trees during the sunset, 
with the note of a thrashing machine, and make a clumsy little 
holocaust of themselves in the cooking fires and, alas! in the 


cooking pots as well. Here General Macdonald, who had been 
sick for a long time, was taken seriously ill during the afternoon, 
but he pulled himself together for an advance on the following 

Sunset over the Tsang-po from Kamba-partsi was a magnifi- 
cent sight. The valley was closed in to the west by two snow- 
capped mountains, the last northern promontories of the Nichi- 
kang-sang range. Below them, as the orange of the sky deepened, 
the conformation of the rock was lost in a veil of purple gloom, 
and the river ran from beneath their feet, a perfect mirror of the 
deepening colors of the west. Muddy water will always give you 
a truer reflected color than a clear running stream, for the same 
reason, no doubt, which enables a black-backed piece of glass to be 
used as a mirror. Anyhow, it is so, and the brilliancy of the 
Tsang-po might almost have been taken for a gash clean through 
the earth, meeting the sunset again beneath the distant barriers of 
rock, for this vivid light on the face of the water ceased with a 
sharp line at a sudden rapid half a mile away, and became just a 
swirling river. Here the water became indistinguishable from the 
land until it was almost at our feet, and then it had lost almost all 
the charm of water, except its sound and motion. The snow on 
the hills turned complementary colors in contrast to the deepening 
carmine behind them. Clouds, touched with orange-fire, ranked 
themselves a mile above the earth, forming a glowing canopy all 
the way to where the sun was setting. In England the effect of a 
sunset is generally of two dimensions only ; at its best it does but 
rear itself up against the sky, a blazing curtain of dissolving color. 
But in these intensely clear altitudes, the fact can be well per- 
ceived that the sunset effect is really created by serried ranks of 
the lower edges of illuminated clouds, each hanging motionless 
by an immutable barometric law, at the same appointed height. 
They are, in fact, like the flies and floats of a theater sky. J. W. 


M. Turner, probably as a result of his travels, was the first painter 
to recognize this atmospheric truth. At last, as one watched, the 
crimson footlights of the west were turned down, and one found 
that half a hundred stars were already blinking whitely in the 
gray-blue depths. 

On the next day we went on to Chak-sam ferry, a distance 
of about six miles. The valley of the Tsang-po is different 
indeed from what one had been given to expect. Instead of a 
full and racing sweep of water, cutting its way, like the southern 
Himalayan streams, through a densely forested gorge, the yellow 
volume, almost without a ripple, swerves and divides itself 
across and between a mile-wide stretch of sand, bordered on 
either side by a broad strip of well-cultivated fields of barley, 
wheat, and peas. Here and there are openings between the hills 
dotted with the white and blue of the surrounding houses, and 
encroached upon by the wastes of billowy sand, which the tide 
at first, and the wind afterward, have banked and shelved against 
the base of the hills.^ Beside the cool lush greenery of the 
road, the whitening barley fields were edged with rank growths 
of thistles and burdock, and " black-veined whites " and 
" orange-tips " fluttered over the opened dog-roses. Where the 
vegetation ceased, the arid waste of triturated granite running 
up to the mountain buttresses is dotted with a kind of mimosa 
which seems rarely to obtain a height of more than two or three 
feet, but is useful in binding together the shifting sands of the 
river bank. 

Chak-sam is so called because of the iron bridge which was 
made many years ago to span the deepest and narrowest chan- 
nel of the river; the chains are all that now remain, but these 
are magnificent enough to deserve a moment's notice. Prince 

* Mr. Hayden, the geologist of the Mission, is of opinion that these enormous 
blankets of sand are due to the local disintegration of the hillsides, and that 
they remain in situ till they fall or are blown away. 


Tang-tong * put up this bridge in the fifteenth century. It con- 
sists of four heavy chains of links, which at a guess, I should 
say, were each eight inches in length; the span of the bridge 
is, approximately, 200 feet, and in mid-stream it descends upon 
an island rock, covered with thick willows, which in the dry 
season stands on the edge of the permanent river-bed ; from this 
rock to the northern shore a stone causeway funs slant-wise, 
which for more than half the year is free of water, but now the 
river made a weir of it, pouring over it in a dirty, clouded 
stream, and you might hear the roar of it at the ferry half a 
mile up the river. At the shore end the abutments and anchor- 
ages rise at the foot of a tidy-looking monastery, set among 
the steep rocks of the basalt hill, here cut and painted with raw 
images in white and blue, daubed with raddle, crested with 
chortens, and flagged sheaves of carving innumerable with the 
inevitable om mani padme hum. The bridge itself is gone, only 
the chains remain; slings and footway alike have disappeared, 
but there is scarcely a sign of rust or clogging to be seen on the 

The Tibetans themselves have long been accustomed to rely 
upon the ferry. In their retreat from their southern and western 
positions, they had neglected to destroy the two ferry-boats, 
to our great advantage. It is difficult to imagine what we should 
have done without them. Each of these great arks is an ob- 
long lighter, forty feet by twelve, with a four-foot freeboard, 
and a quaintly carved horse's head at the bows. The transport 
of the troops across the river was enormously hastened by the 
device used by Captain Sheppard. He turned these two boats 
into swinging bridges, by the aid of stout ropes running on a 

* This learned pillar of the Church was long averse to encountering the pit- 
falls and delusions of the flesh. He therefore remained for sixty years in 
gremio matris cogitating upon the vanity of worldly things. Eventually it 
occurred to him that his inaction was causing serious inconvenience to 
another, and he consented to be born. The whole story is a bitter but un- 
conscious satire upon the selfishness of Lamaism. 


carrier backward and forward along a steel wire hawser, which 
he here threw across the 120 yards of whirling and swollen 
brown water. In this way the interminable waste of time, caused 
by the necessary drift down stream of the big boats in their 
passages across, was prevented, and what had previously taken 
an hour — with occasional intervals of three hours, during which 
the boat had lumbered two miles down stream, and had to be 
painfully retrieved and towed back— now took but twenty min- 
utes for the return journey. The mules were swum across 
under Captain Moore's charge, half a mile higher up stream. 

On the second day the force suffered the greatest loss which 
overtook them throughout the entire expedition. General Mac- 
donald, remembering his Central African experiences, had pro- 
vided rafts, supported at either end by Berthon boats ; these car- 
ried ten men and their kits at a time, but owing to the velocity 
of the current, which caused a series of whirlpools, gyrating 
in a curve from the corner of the bluff under cover of which 
the ferry-boats came to rest, more freeboard was here needed 
than in still water, and after the sixth or seventh passage had 
been hazardously but safely performed, the nose of one of the 
boats was caught in the stream, and before one could have 
believed it possible, the whole raft, water-logged, with its oc- 
cupants clinging to it, was floating helplessly down stream. 
All except two men caught hold of the raft and were ultimately 
saved ; but one of these two was no less important an officer than 
Major Bretherton; he was a good swimmer, and made one or 
two desperate efforts to keep from going under : he was seen to 
go down twice, and from that moment he was never seen again. 
It is a difficult thing adequately to assess the loss caused by his 
death. The department of which he was the brilliant chief was 
that upon which the success of this expedition almost wholly 
depended, for supply and transport were as necessary to the force 
as the very air they breathed. Cool, capable, and untiring, a 


thorough believer in the necessity for personal superintendence 
of the smallest detail, Major Bretherton's thorough grasp of 
every department of supply, and his unfailing willingness to 
help the individual, had long before earned for him the admira- 
tion of every one and the personal gratitude of most men. Only 
a few minutes before I had met him walking up to the landing- 
stage. I asked him where he was going, and he told me that 
he was going to make a search for food-stuffs in the little house 
which could be seen a mile away on the other side of the river. 
It seemed to me, under the circumstances, a needless exertion for 
the chief of so large and so well-managed a department. He 
only answered, with that curious half-stammer with which he 
often began a sentence, " They always miss a few maunds if one 
is not there oneself; I had better go over." This was the last 
I saw of him, and I should like to record here my deep personal 
regret at the death of one whom I had come to admire and like 
most unfeignedly. In him was lost the most brilliant of the 
younger service-corps chiefs in the Indian army. 



ON the third day after our arrival at Chak-sam Colonel 
Younghusband and the Mission crossed the river, and 
took up their abode in the garden of a little house of which the 
local name is Pome-tse. The work of transporting the entire 
force across the river occupied a week, and during that time I 
made one or two expeditions to interesting points beside the 
river. On the 28th of July, O'Connor and I rode out to Ta-ka-re, 
about two and a half miles along the north bank of the river 
to the west; the road ran through barley fields dotted with for- 
get-me-nots and plantations of willows and poplars until we 
came in sight of the large pyramidal chorten which stands just 
outside the village of Tse-gang-tse. This is a curious structure 
built up of receding tiers and crowned with a large drum. No 
one was able to tell us anything about its origin, but it is in- 
teresting because of a slight resemblance to the Pyramid of 
Saqqara.^ It is called a Pum-ba locally, and I noticed that in 
the innumerable reiterations of om mani padme hum round the 
structure the conventional order of colors was varied in one par- 
ticular, the second syllable being a dull apricot instead of green. 
Otherwise it was normal. 

We rode on under the white wall of the village, passing a 
splendid walnut-tree standing just where a ravine flawed with 

* One of the interesting things in Tibet is the frequency with which one may- 
see in almost, if not entirely, contemporary history the existence and de- 
velopment of processes and ideas which in other parts of the world are almost 



slowly trickling water afforded shelter to a rich profusion of 
flowers and ferns. A mile on we mounted a short-cut over a 
little spar of quartzite, which here deflects the road, and came 
down within sight of two extensive monasteries built up against 
the rock. At their feet was a walled-in inclosure, half-swampy, 
half-firm grass, in which were growing some of the most enor- 
mous willow trunks I have ever seen. These trees must be ' 
of immense age. Without seeing them, it is difficult to form an 
idea of the unusual size which these writhing and gnarled mon- 
sters attain. We visited the Ta-ka-re gompa, the entrance of 
which immediately faces the willow grove, and were well re- 
ceived by the little company of monks. It is the smaller of the 
two monasteries, and does not perhaps differ very much in 
construction or in ornamentation from the • usual Tibetan 
lamasery. The Umzi, or manager, took us over the build- 
ings. They are not of very great interest, the place being 
somewhat overshadowed by the reincarnate divinity of Jang- 
kor-yang-tse next door, but there was one particularly interest- 
ing room, in which were collected some of the older or disused 
objects of ritual in the monastery. These they were perfectly 
willing to sell, and we both secured two or three objects. In 
front of the seat of the Kenpo or Abbot was a very handsome 
skull bowl set in turquoise-ornamented silver, the finest, I think, 
that I ever saw in Tibet; near by was a European looking-glass 
which the Tibetans regarded with especial pride; and there was 
also one of the cinerary chortens in which the mortal remains 
of only reincarnate lamas are allowed to be preserved. This was 
of silver. 

It is never entirely satisfactory, as no doubt the reader will 
have discovered by this time, to ask a Tibetan too closely as 
to the meaning of some of the stranger sights in a gompa; our 
own lama confessed himself beaten when he was asked what was 
the meaning of some objects arranged in the innermost sanctuary 


here behind a pane of glass of considerable size. In this, the 
most sacred position in the temple, it was certainly surprising 
to find, after pulling aside the dirty and greasy katags which 
hung over the front of the shrine, three irregularly shaped pieces 
of common rock and a wasps' nest. All four were crowned with 
gold and turquoise, and from the interior of each crown rose a 
torma, a marvel of dexterity and patience. We had tea with 
the Umzi, the Abbot being absent in Lhasa, and came back in 
the company of two cheerful lamas, who were carrying our pur- 
chases. We arrived back at Pome-tse, or North Camp as it is 
called on the military maps, in time to join the Mission mess 
at dinner out in the open air under the trees. I doubt whether 
very many people have ever before deliberately chosen to dine 
out of doors at an altitude of 12,600 feet. 

On the 30th of July, as the passage of the river was still delay- 
ing us, O'Connor and I went out again on the same road to pay 
a visit to the larger monastery next door, Jang-kor-yang-tse. 
This is a far more pretentious establishment than its neighbor; 
as I have said, it boasts the proud distinction of having an in- 
carnation of its own, and we were lucky enough to find his 
Saintship at home. We went up to an open courtyard in front 
of the main entrance of the gompa. Immediately facing this 
was the usual frescoed arcade and overhead a great siris tree, 
a species of acacia, which the Tibetans call yom-hor} Inlaid 
in the courtyard in front of the temple was a boldly designed 
swastika. The bosses and ring-plates of the doors of the gompa 
were of the finest filigree work, and the design and finish of the 
great key of iron and inlaid silver was remarkably good; it was 

*The last syllable of this name contains an unusual sound in Tibetan 
speech ; it is a deep and prolonged note, and is found again in such words as 
Jo, the great golden idol of Lhasa, and in towo, meaning " terrible." I have, 
perhaps, been inconsistent in rendering the sound in the former word by a 
single letter and doubling it in the latter, but " towo " is so constantly used 
by writers upon Tibetan ecclesiology that I have preferred not to alter it. 


about 1 8 inches in length. Inside the temple one noticed par- 
ticularly the profusion of hanging katags and gyan-tsen. The 
place resembled an alley in a Chinese market, so obscured was 
it with hanging cloths. Among them I noticed a singularly fine 
tang-ka, the finest in workmanship that I had seen.^ In a wide 
and high dark court behind it, divided in two by a half-floor, 
was sitting a gigantic Buddha. He was probably made of 
clay, but the surface was finely finished and gilded as successfully 
as if it had been made of copper. Over the huge shoulders 
costly silks were thrown, and it was singularly effective to en- 
counter the impassive gaze of those inscrutable eyes gleaming 
out in sharp relief against the surrounding darkness; the entire 
image was, perhaps, thirty feet in height; in some respects it 
resembled the inclosed Buddhas of Japan, and, perhaps, by sheer 
contrast, reminded one of that most effective image in the world, 
the great bronze Buddha in the sun among the pine-trees of 
Kama-kura. After making a thorough inspection of all the 
buildings, we leaned over the parapet of the flat roof beneath 
a gilded cupola and let our eyes run up and down the river, 
which here is seen more splendidly than from any other 

We had tea with the Lama. He told us the story of his life, 
and it is not without interest. He said that it was a long time 
before his sanctity was recognized. He spoke in a low, sweet 
voice, and I am not certain that there was not a tinkle of humor 
to be detected now and then. His earliest remembrances were 
unfortunate; he was then as a child attached to Penam monas- 
tery, twenty miles west of Gyantse, and his life was made so mis- 
erable there by the brutality of the lamas that, while still a 

* The size of these tang-kas varies greatly, but few are more than eight 
feet in length; they are generally protected by one, two, or even three cur- 
tains of thin tussore silk, the outer one being of curious but characteristic 
coloring. In rainbow tints, merging imperceptibly one into another, some of 
the " eight sacred emblems " are mistily indicated. 


Viewed from the Jong-kor-yangtse 


Showing the cable for the ferryboat to the opposite bank of the river 


boy, he ran away and went to Lhasa. He must have been a boy 
of character and audacity, for such insubordination as that is 
almost inconceivable in a lamaic acolyte. Arrived in Lhasa, 
he attached himself to a doctor, and after some years of appren- 
ticeship he came to practise in this village of Jang-kor-yang-tse. 
Three years ago, tired of the small scope which this little village 
afforded him in his profession, he had intended to return to 
Lhasa. The lamas, with whom he was on the friendliest terms, 
were in despair at the thought of losing his services. In Tibet 
there are ways and means unknown to western nations, and as 
the succession of incarnations in this gompa happened then to 
be in abeyance, a hurried despatch was sent to Lhasa, with the 
result that our friend was, to his own intense amazement, hailed, 
in his twenty-fourth year, as the long-lost successor of the Bo- 
disats of Jang-kor-yang-tse. Sitting cross-legged on his little 
dais in front of the square latticed windows which kept the 
bright heads of hollyhocks from falling into the room, he told 
us his story, and I confess I wondered at the time whether he 
were not, even then, yearning for his old life of less sanctity and 
greater freedom. He explained that he had intended to pay a 
visit of courtesy to Colonel Younghusband, but had been re- 
strained through fear of the Lhasan Government. Turning to 
O'Connor, he asked, with unaffected simplicity, " Tell me, un- 
der which government am I? Are the English or the Tibetans 
lords of this valley? " 

During the interview a dozen of the senior lamas crowded 
the end of the room, and two of the younger ones busied them- 
selves hospitably by filling our tea-cups after every draught. 
O'Connor assured them they had nothing to fear from our 
troops so long as they attended to their religious duties ; he ex- 
plained to them exactly what we needed and were ready to pay 
for in the matter of provisions, and to each succeeding sentence 
the listening crowd of monks bent forward with hands upon 


their knees, and chorused the one cry of obedience and respect 
in Tibet, " La-lis, la-lis." 

We returned to Pome-tse, watching the blue smoke drifting 
across the river from the now dwindling encampment by Chak- 
sam. There was but one more day of waiting, and that I spent 
in reading lazily under the shadow of the trees in a plantation 
two hundred yards up the river-flat from the house. The place 
was like an English wood, except that big water-worn boulders 
emerged here and there through the grass. Forget-me-not and 
hemlock bloomed carelessly under the tall poplars, and homely 
" meadow-browns " spread their wings upon the dark-blue dead 
nettles; all round, outside the walls containing this little wood, 
the wheat fields rustled silkily in the breeze, and the hum of bees 
murmured drowsily in the pauses of the ringdoves' urgent sug- 
gestions that two cows might as well be taken as one. It was 
strangely English, and from that time till I once more regained 
the high grazing-grounds of the Lake, I became more and more 
used to finding the least expected sights and sounds of England 
among these lonely uplands. Wild carrots grew in rank pro- 
fusion, looking up to the white undersides of the leaves of the 
poplars, and round a raw country altar — Pan's very own, all 
sods and turf — Michaelmas daisies starred the grass. The roofs 
of a white farm-house a quarter of a mile away rose en echelon 
through the foliage. The house was made of the usual sun- 
dried brick, for it is not possible to use the round alluvial pebbles 
of the spot for more responsible work than a field boundary; 
their shape denies them stability and cement is unknown. 
Patches of golden light checkered the turf under the willows, 
and here and there a tiny five-starred blue passion-flower climbed 
the stouter plants, and a common "blue" chased his dowdy 
spouse, zigzagging a foot above the grass. 

This quiet little elysium was owned by the Jong-pen of Na- 
gartse, a man of great importance and brutality. Upon our ar- 


rival all his servants and serfs implored us as one man to take 
this opportunity of cutting off his head. 

We set off again on the 31st, and welcome indeed were the 
cheery war-cries of the Sikhs and Gurkhas as they set their feet 
upon the road again.* We moved on to the east along the north- 
ern bank of the Tsang-po, threading through fields of grain and 
sometimes through villages nestling among trees. Far across the 
river in the long distances there were heaped up sand-drifts, 
nine hundred feet high, against the mountain precipices, and now 
and then a slow dust rose from them toward a white silver 
slant of threaded rain, caught like a skein of spun silk in front 
of the heavy indigo clouds. Ten minutes later the storm would 
come to us also, but passed as suddenly as it came. 

Here the signs which befit the last stages of a pilgrim's road 
were beginning to increase in number and in beauty. It was 
not merely that, as always in Tibet, one found beside a village, 
at a cleft in the rock-side, at the crossing of a stream, on every 
place which looks a likely home of devils, a rain-washed string 
of flags, or a gaily decked brush of ten-foot willow sprigs, but 
from here until its end, besides the great Buddhas cut deep into 
the point of each spur, round or over which it drives its stony 
course, innumerable mantras are cut in light relief upon every 
offering-stone along the road. " Om mani padme hum " ; the 
monotonous ejaculation seemed to cry out from rock to rock— 
"This is the way of salvation; by this alone shall you escape 
from earth.* 

* The Sikhs' war-cry, raised in chorus by the entire company as the first 
foot is advanced, is as follows:— Wa guru ji ka khalsa! Seri wa guru ji ki 
futti! Sut seri akhal ! {Hail, God of the liberated! Victory to the holy ones! 
My body is to thee, O God!) 

The Gurkhas' adjuration is :— Seri Ghurkh' Nath baba ki jai. {In the name 
of our holy father Ghurkh' Nath, victory!) 

* An occasional sequence of colors for the six syllables of this mantra at 
Chusul, and later on also at Ne-tang, is white, blue, yellow, green, red, and 
black; but from continuous notes I am able to say that white, green, yellow,. 


Before we reached the point which hides Chusul, Gonkar 
<^'ong, where the Sinchen Lama was done to death, was conspicu- 
ous on a little bluff five or six miles down stream, and the sight 
of it brought tears to the eyes of the Shebdung Lama. However, 
we came no nearer to it. Our course turned off to the left here, 
and we soon passed through the little green-clad village of Chu- 
sul. Here the Ta Lama awaited the arrival of Colonel Young- 
husband, who, with ever-ready patience, granted him another, 
but, of course, a fruitless interview. 

Chusul is dominated by two peaks on which the ruins of two 
strong forts may be still seen. In a cavern of the mountain-side 
beyond the inner peak it is said that the Tibetans condemned to 
death were walled in until such time as the scorpions which infest 
the spot had done their deadly work. This is probably wholly 
untrue, though we did, indeed, notice scorpions more than once 
in this part of our route. Thence we moved on up the valley of 
the Kyi chu, leaving behind us the Tsang-po sliding heavily to the 
south toward the defile where its waters vanished from our sight. 
The point of land which runs out between the two rivers was ex- 
plored by Mr. Magniac, and found to be an impassable morass. 
The road keeps on at the foot of the hills, but before these are 
reached a wide plain is crossed through which a deeply cut canal 
carries off the snow waters from the mountains on the left. A 
monastery stands near the mouth of a dry and unfertile valley. 
At Tashi-tse, a mile or two short of Tse-pe-nang, we halted for the 
night, just underneath a detached fort-crowned pinnacle of rock 
thrust out from the mountain-side. The ground swarmed with 
little black beetles, spotted with white and red like a Tibetan dom- 
ino. On the 1st of August, the eight-mile-long line set out be- 
times for the last stretch of the journey which was to be still 
uncheered by the sight of Potala's golden roofs ; the distance to be 

blue, red, and indigo (rarely black or purplish blue) is beyond comparison 
the commonest sequence of color throughout the country. 

K -5 

►J u 

^ .-2 

w^ Hi 




marched was about eleven miles. The road lies at first over flat 
and marshy ground, but in view of the subsequent narrow and 
difficult trang, it was impossible to make use of this advantage 
by advancing otherwise than in Indian file all day. 

The expeditionary force upon the march must have been an im- 
pressive thing for the natives who peeped toward it from the 
distant rocks. One is so apt to think of an army from one's remem- 
brance of a parade ground or a review, that it is difficult to con- 
vey an impression of the enormous length to which even so small 
a force as that with which we were now advancing stretches out 
upon the road. The first result of this is that the greatest danger to 
be guarded against, apart, of course, from hostile demonstrations 
from the enemy, is that of irregularity on the march; for a sec- 
ond's delay, caused, say, by a deep water-cut, multiplied, as it must 
be, by the number of files in an eight-mile column, becomes, at the 
end of the line, a delay of twenty minutes. It was a striking sight, 
this long filament of men and beasts stretching and shrinking 
themselves forward — for all the world like a worm upon a path — 
as the gaps were lengthened and made up, between the high cliff 
and the tumbling water below. You would, in the morning, find 
the Pioneers striding with long legs until the Gurkhas' officers 
had to protest against the pace ; but later on, in the same day, you 
would find a Pioneer or two sitting exhausted beside the road, but 
rarely would you find a Gurkha in distress. The dust crawls out 
slowly from under the changing feet, hanging in the air for a mile 
behind the last files of the rearguard. In front will go the 
mounted infantry, inquisitive and at wary intervals, and then a 
detachment of Sikhs, long drawn out— interminably, one thinks, 
as one waits beside the path to let the men go by. Then with a 
brisk clank of new trappings, up steps nearly a mile of moun- 
tain battery, composed of great upstanding mules specially 
chosen for their work. Some, those carrying the heavier pieces, 
are necessarily "top-loaded." This is the most trying of 


all ways of porterage, because there is no natural balance of the 
loads and the breastplate and breechings press heavily indeed 
against the animal's steadiness unless the road be flat. Still, to 
those good beasts, this was but a little matter. One mule carries 
one half of the gun and the breechpiece follows behind, racketing 
backward and forward with the jerky mule step, but secured in- 
exorably ; then comes the trail, and then the wheels, two and two, 
all separated by a man or two on foot. After these, the endless 
ammunition train, each train of leather shell-boxes close up beside 
its own gun, and you would think that there were twenty guns 
instead of six in the battery by the time you had waited for a quar- 
ter of an hour only to find the disjecta membra of these all-impor- 
tant weapons still slowly trailing by. Behind them, the Commis- 
sioner might be found. Of him one could never say positively 
his position or his pace, for he would sometimes remain in camp 
working with a dak orderly in attendance until \he rearguard 
were on the point of starting, and then he would manage some- 
how to climb up the slow-moving force of which the vanguard was 
as he started within sight of their evening's camping-ground. 
Not far away from the battery you would always find the General, 
jogging along with bent shoulders — a mile away you could tell 
that he was a sick man.^ Bignell you would find near him, 
mounted on a horse that looked fitter for a circus than a campaign, 
but was useful enough at a rough-and-tumble scurry up and down 
rocks, down the face of any nullah of any angle, through brakes 
of sallow thorn or across the stony bottom of a tumbling river. 
" Hippo " and his rider did yeoman service, and though, by his 
own confession, Bignell is not a Ritz, before the campaign ended 
the Headquarters' mess had been brought to a state of almost un- 
natural excellence — so at least Bignell claimed, and he should 

^ For three or four days Macdonald, during his advance from Chumbi to 
the relief of Gyantse, was so ill with gastritis that he had to be carried in a 
dandy, and repeatedly afterward he was compelled to take to his bed by 
attack after attack of this weakening and lowering sickness. 


know. Major Iggulden might be there too, but more probably he 
would be found well in front, watching the road. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Waddell, with his strangely laden attendants, would be 
hard by, and not far away O'Connor on his strawberry and cream 
mount. After the latter's exploits at Pala, Colonel Younghus- 
band set a grim foot down on the aspirations to any further 
military glory of the most irreplaceable man in all that force. 
Here you are to imagine a well, but somewhat slightly, built man 
of more than the average height, with an offhand courtesy which 
masks an attractively unselfish nature and a quick and observant 
eye. I think, like every one else who is worth knowing, he needs 
to be known, for it is truer of few people in the world than of 
O'Connor, that he attends strictly and exclusively to his own busi- 
ness; a touch of the recluse — shown in a disinclination to attend 
meals — he is still a man with whom no other man, except by his 
own fault, could fail to be on the best of terms. A steady judge of 
most things is this young gunner, and I know that the Commis- 
sioner rated his opinion very highly. I must have written badly 
indeed in these pages if they do not already confess the great and 
continued debt which they owe to O'Connor for any interest they 
may possess. 

Still the column stretches on; after the fighting men come the 
interminable trains of laden mules, linked together four by four, 
tail to nose, and swerving aside for no man and no thing. I have 
had my pony swept off a bridge into a river because I foolishly 
attempted to make one of these mule-trains see that there was 
ample room for both of us ; their instinct, which, no doubt, has 
been developed by generations of pack-carrying along dangerous 
trangs, is not to give way when they meet an obstacle ; they seem 
then to put their heads down and make a determined rush inward 
in order to put an extra foot or two between themselves and the 
edge of the path. There is no greater fallacy than that of sup- 
posing that a mule prefers to walk on the edge of a precipice. He 


is no fool, and if he gets his load entangled with a passing rider 
he will simply shove straight through the obstacle. The only oc- 
casion on which he becomes reasonable and docile is when his 
pack slips, when he will stand perfectly still and refuse to be 
hauled forward, however much his companions in front pull at 
him; it need not be said that this they immediately do with all 
their strength. 

One conceives a very genuine liking for these uncomplaining 
half-breeds ; the work they do is something which no other beast 
could attempt, and they remain well and fit for work long after 
every other animal known to man as a baggage-carrier has given 
way. We tried on this expedition most of the world's beasts of 
burden ; the ponies were, perhaps, hardly given a fair chance be- 
cause the larger part of their drivers bolted the night before we 
crossed into the Chumbi Valley. Of the rest, the story of the yaks 
is one of the dreariest histories of a waste of animal life in military 
records ; but it is difficult to apportion the blame for this.^ 

* The original corps of yaks were three in number, under Wigram, Tillard, 
and Twiss respectively ; they came from the Nepalese frontier, where they 
were taken over to Chumbi by the highest possible route that could be found 
across Sikkim. About 3,500 started in November, but as their numbers 
melted away under stress of every disease known to the veterinary surgeon, 
the scanty remnants of these herds were united into one under Wigram. I do 
not think that any record of the expedition would be complete without at 
least some reference to the work done by this officer. Exiled from speech 
with his own kin for many months on end, with only the half-savage yak- 
drivers of Nepal to talk to, he tended his miserable beasts with a care that de- 
serves recognition. He was not allowed by the exigencies of the case to draw 
upon the commissariat for any fodder, and when it was eventually necessary 
to find some other sustenance for his charges than that which bare snow and 
rock provided, he paid for it out of his own pocket. In spite of all he could 
do himself, his beasts dwindled away, dying in tens and twenties at a time, 
and I well remember seeing the last remnants, 150 in number, of these 3,500 
yaks slowly wending their way into Chumbi, with the drivers themselves 
actually carrying the little loads which the yaks were no longer able to sup- 
port. Subsequently another corps was made up of 600 beasts from Phari, 150 
from Tuna, and 500 from other places. At the end of June, of this new 
corps of 1,250, 209 alone were alive in Gyantse ; about 170 were picked up after- 
ward, and with greater success than had ever been achieved before, they 
■were divided into two corps, one of about 240 at the ferry, the remainder being 


We had in the column two curious beasts— zebrules. They 
were not a success ; pleasant and docile animals, a cross between a 
zebra and a Clydesdale mare, they were physically unable to stand 
the pack work because they were longer in the back than any 
horse, or any zebra, or any mule has ever been before, so, as a 
rule, they were allowed to accompany the battery more as curi- 
osities than as workers. Camels were even at one time proposed, 
and, I believe, actually used, but their immediate failure was pre- 
destined. Donkey corps were used successfully ; but in these cases 
the contracts were given out locally to Tibetans in the habit 
of transporting goods on these little animals. The Supply and 
Transport Department, indefatigable in their researches, offered 
100 rupees for any kyang which could be brought in. This can 
hardly have been seriously meant, though it certainly was seri- 
ously taken by the native troops. A kyang is a tortoiseshell-col- 
ored wild ass confined to this part of the world's surface; it has 
never been tamed, and the Tibetans, who should know, say that 
it is untamable ; herds of them are found on the Tuna plateau ; and 
again, outside Lhasa, there are some which are regarded as the 
peculiar and semi-sacred property of the Dalai Lama. 

Excepting of course coolies, the only other means of transport 
employed during the expedition was the ekka, a brilliant inspira- 
tion of Major Bretherton's. These light two-wheeled carts, a 
mere platform upon wheels, were laboriously hoisted up over the 
Natu la in detached pieces and toward the end of the thne were 
running regularly and without undue mishaps on the level plain 
between Kamparab and Kang-ma, a distance of 90 miles. There 
was some difficulty at first in harnessing the ponies of Tibet to a 
thing they had never seen before; the yaks, on the other hand, 
took to it at once, and four or five of these beasts could be seen 

stabled at Pe-di jong. This, in bald outline, is the fate of the yak corps, and 
the S. and T. Department have learned never again to place their reliance 
upon these burly and delicate beasts. 


any day solemnly trudging along with the weary persecuted look 
on their face which entirely belies the innate contentment that a 
yak feels when he has succeeded in inducing his master to believe 
that he cannot go more than a mile and a half an hour.* 

So the far-stretching column creeps along, leaving behind it a 
trampled highway and a low hanging canopy of dust. 

Three times in the march to Nam the road creeps painfully be- 
tween the rock and the river, three times it stretches across a wide 
and cultivated plain; one passes Jang-ma, where a stagnant and 
picturesque reed-swamp separates the village from the mantra- 
adorned rock. The village is pretty enough in its fields of deep 
barley. At last we turned the steepest spur of all, to double which 
the road runs lOO feet up the high projecting shoulder of granite. 
Here there was to be seen a gleam of gold in the far distance, and 
we thought that Lhasa was at last in sight; but it was in reality 
only the gilded roof of the Chief Magician's temple, two miles dis- 
tant from the Ling-kor. Descending to a plain, we made our en- 
campment for the night just where the curving river, here a mile 
wide, was eating into the alluvial flats so fast that, as we watched, 
another and yet another piece of fresh green turf fell helplessly 
into the muddy stream. The view from Nam to the north-east — 
and no one would look in any other direction — is shut in by two 

* The language of the yaks is a thing in itself : it must be heard to be 
believed. These yak-drivers, almost as well qualified for stuffing as curiosities 
of natural history as their charges, carry on a conversation with their beasts 
which astounds an outsider. I here append two or three of these sounds. 
The command to quicken their pace is indicated to the yaks by the same sound 
as that produced by a small boy in London whistling through his teeth with 
the fullest power of his lungs ; the signal to stop is a triple " ugh " thrust 
from the lowest recesses of the chest. More interesting are two other com- 
mands. If you are approaching a yak from behind, and you do not wish him 
either to get alarmed or quicken his pace, all you have to do (and he will 
recognize it at once) is three or four times to make that sound with the 
tongue and teeth with which a nicely brought up lady will express the tire- 
someness of a trifle. I do not know much more about the language, but I 
doubt if in their vocabulary they have a more surprising word than "yea- 
milly." At this order the yaks will actually return again to the path if they 
have strayed too far from it up the mountain-side. 


converging spurs from north and south, in the middle of which 
an islet of rock rises, nearly joining the two. Between this and 
the southern spur the river ran ; our road was to take us on the 
northern side of the islet. These barriers shut off all sight of the 
plain of Lhasa, and in spite of the repeated claims of those who 
went forward with the mounted infantry, the fact remains that 
Captain Peterson or Captain Souter must have been actually the 
first man to see the Potala, long after the force had been persuaded 
that the credit belonged to Captain Ottley, who had a race up a 
height with Major Iggulden, and beat him by a head in obtaining 
the first glimpse of — Sera Monastery! They returned to camp 
vowing they had seen Lhasa, in spite of the steady assurances of 
a Tibetan interpreter.^ 

On the next day, the 2d of August, we still followed the dif- 
ficult track along the indentations of the hills and emerged at 
last into a wide, well-cultivated plain. There, moving along a 
sunken road between wide fields of peas and wheat, we soon 
reached the well-wooded village of Nethang, which boasts the 
distinction of having been the residence of the great reformer, 
Atisha. The road runs straight through the town, making two 
sharp turns at right angles as it does so; a few lamas gathered 
at the door or on the roof-tops to watch us, a few children stood 
in the doorways with their fingers in their mouths and their 
■eyes wide open. There was no other sign of life. 

We made a short halt beyond the village to enable the proper 
intervals to be made up, but it was with impatience that we 
waited the order to continue our march. Before us the two spurs 
of intervening rock still closed the view of the Plain of Milk 
completely, and there was a mile to be traversed before we could 
make our way between these forbidding barriers. Once set 
moving again, the column crawled forward under the rocky 

* If it is of any interest to record these details, the town of Lhasa itself was first 
seen by Captain Ottley from the spur joining Potala and Chagpo-ri. 


sides of the northern spur and at last threaded through the 

Another disappointment was in store for us. Once inside the 
gate of the plain, even from that point of view not a stone nor 
a pinnacle of Lhasa is to be seen. We had to possess our souls 
in patience still. But that we were near our journey's end was 
clear enough. Here at our left elbows, hacked out on the inner 
surface of the rock, was the famous Buddha of which we had 
so often heard; this great monster, thirty feet in height, and 
cut in thirty-six-inch relief in the natural flattened surface of the 
raw rock, gazed over our heads toward the Holy City. It has 
had built over it a roof supported on two jutting walls of granite, 
and it is undoubtedly of a very early, even possibly of a pre- 
historic, type; it marks the entrance to the plain in which Lhasa 
lies, though, as I have said, a projecting spur from the south 
still conceals the Potala from one's eyes. It is for this reason 
of great religious interest and veneration, and in front of it 
stands a twenty-foot heap of pebbles raised by pious pilgrims 
in thanksgiving for the nearness of their long-expected goal. ' 
It is bedaubed coarsely with yellow and blue and red, and, it 
must be confessed, is one of the ugliest things we saw in the 

Close as we thought ourselves to be, it was nearly two miles 
yet, two long miles impatiently covered — past strange strata 
of gneiss jutting out perpendicularly from the hillsides like 
huge armor-plates — past an interesting example of the strange 
" cup marks " which are found all the world over in the Eastern 
and Western hemispheres alike, which no living man can even 
attempt to explain, and at which no one just then even wished 
to look — past treacherous swamps of vivid green grass growing 
on soil more water than earth— two miles that seem like ten, 
before that interminable southern spur is outridden, before the 
place of our desire was reached. 


You may see from afar the spot at which the first glance of 
the Potala may be obtained. Beside a barley field is a low mud- 
colored chorten, and beside the shorten is a heap of stones larger 
even than that before the great Buddha behind us. There is not 
much else to mark the place, but assuredly nothing more was 
needed on that day. 

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon, and a light-blue 
haze was settling down in between the ravines of the far-distant 
mountains that to the east ringed in the plain, and nearer to hand 
on either side threw their spurs forward like giant buttresses 
from north to south. There was a smell of fresh spring earth 
and the little rustle of a faint wind in the heads of barley; the 
sun was merciless in a whitened sky wherein from horizon to 
horizon there was never a flush of blue. It was all common, 
and yet the hour teemed with a fierce interest of a kind that no 
man will perhaps ever feel again. I took off my smoked-glass 
spectacles to see the clearer, and it was bright indeed. 

Then, as we rode on, it came. In the far, far distance, across 
and beyond those flat fields of barley, marked here and there 
by the darker line of low-wooded plantations, a gray pyramid 
painfully disengaged itself from behind the outer point of the 
gray concealing spur — Lhasa. 

• «•••• 

Here at last it was, the never-reached goal of so many weary 
wanderers, the home of all the occult mysticism that still re- 
mains on earth. The light waves of mirage dissolving impal- 
pably just shook the far outlines of the golden roofs and dimly 
seen white terraces. I do not think any one of us said much. 

The mounted infantry were, of course, ahead of us, but we had 
outridden the main column by some distance, and we stood a 
moment on the road just where a sudden flight of dragon-flies 
pierced the air with lines of quick blue ; then we rode on. Even 
supposing we had found Lhasa to be a handful of hovels scat- 


tered on a dusty plain with just such distinction of palace and 
temple as one had time after time seen in Tibet before, one side 
of our natural curiosity would, no doubt, have been slaked suffi- 
ciently, but we were to find a different thing indeed. Here, in 
these uttermost parts of the earth, uplifted high above humanity, 
guarded by impenetrable passes of rock and ice, by cliffs of sheer 
granite, by the hostility of man and by the want of food and 
fuel, here was no poor Oriental town arrogating to itself the 
dignity which mystery in itself confers. Judged by the stan- 
dards of the East and West alike, Lhasa is a city which can 
hold its own with most ; we were to find it unique, dowered with 
a mingled magnificence and green luxuriance for which no step 
of our journey had g^ven us warning. 

There at last it was, and for the next half mile O'Connor and 
I allowed our beasts to find their own way over the pebble-strewn 
road while little by little we devoured with our eyes the outlines 
of the twin rocks which stand as sentinels to hide from the 
traveler the sight of the Cathedral which lies low on the plain 
to the east. For the city of Lhasa is not visible until you shall 
have climbed up the neck of land which almost joins Chagpo-ri 
to Potala. But there the great palace of the god-king was, 
and a shaft or two of light from the golden canopies burned 
whitely upon us for a few yards as we went. 

The remainder of that day's march was simple enough; we 
made our way past whitened houses lurking here and there under 
the shade of Lombardy poplars and begirt with the green and 
rustling ranks of barley, until at last To-lung was reached, 

T6-lung is but a house or two by the western approach to 
the bridge over the T6-lung-chu. This bridge is one of the most 
creditable pieces of Tibetan labor, for not only is the bridge itself 
well constructed of granite with its piers protected by long 
sterlings up stream, but for more than a mile on either side 
the very course of that stream is guided beneath it from the hills 


where its springs are. Two well built containing walls ten feet 
in height curb the snow waters coming from the long valley to 
the north. 

It is, perhaps, as well to describe at once the unusual conforma- 
tion and consistency of the plain in the middle of which Lhasa 
lies. The Tibetans themselves will assure you that there is an 
underground lake, and that unless these waters are annually 
propitiated, not only by services and obeisances rendered to the 
serpent who lives in the island sanctuary of Lu-kang, but also 
by ceremonies calculated to mollify the vague personality who 
dwells beneath the very shrine of the Jo itself, Lhasa would be 
inundated by its unseen waters. There is this nluch to be said 
in justification of this theory, that, from end to end, the plain 
round the capital is almost without exception a water-sodden 
morass on which it is almost impossible to travel for a hundred 
yards without encountering a quagmire. The road by which 
one approaches the capital is a causeway built four or five feet 
up from the surface of the marsh and pierced a dozen times 
by culverts through which brown peaty water flows apace. Only 
in two places are these waters confined within their proper 
channels. The To-lung revetments make it possible on the 
west to build a bridge across the collected waters that would 
otherwise undermine the firm earth for half a mile on either side, 
and farther on, under the western gate of Lhasa itself, another 
great work of sand binds in the spasmodic floods which oppress 
the Kaling chu. These two works drain the Plain of Milk, so 
far at least as T6-lung and Lhasa are concerned; for the rest, 
the waving rushes of the plain conceal a treacherous depth of 

In length the Plain of Milk is about 15 miles, in width it varies 
from two to five, and in upon it from all sides strike the spurs 
of vast mountains which even then, in July, were snow-capped 
in the morning hours. In the recesses between these spurs lurk 


the villages and the monasteries of which we had heard so much. 
Lhasa itself lies out in mid-plain under the eastern lee of the two 
hills I have described. Through the plain, immediately to the 
south of the capital, the Kyi chu meanders vaguely through its 
wide and sandy course, and, thanks to this luxuriance of water 
and to the shelter which is provided by the mountains round 
from every wind that blows, the unpollarded vegetation of the 
plain grows rank and free. A little road crieeps along the north- 
ern mountain-side, following the ins and outs of the mountain 
contours from T6-lung to Sera, but this is only a side track — 
the main road strikes fairly and straightly across the center of 
the marsh from Shing-donkar to the Pargo Kaling, or western 
gate of the Sacred City. 

At T6-lung we halted for the night, but long before the camp 
was settled a great deputation arrived from out of the capital. 
An audience was granted, and for two hours and a half the 
Mission camp was thronged with the bright silken habits and 
hats of the more important dignitaries. There were the usual 
arguments, the usual prayers; in their recommendations that the 
force should advance no further toward the city of which the 
guardian hills were now clearly visible to the east, the Tibetan 
envoys enjoyed what must have been to them unexpected support 
from the General. But it was the same old game on the part 
of the Tibetans, and I do not think that anything throughout 
the campaign reflected so much credit upon the Secretary of 
State for India as that when he at last realized at all the necessity 
of this advance he recognized also its imperative nature. Ac- 
cepting the representations of Colonel Younghusband, he did 
not hesitate a moment; the treaty, he ordered, was to be signed 
in Lhasa itself, and signed not even one mile short of it. As 
the afternoon wore on, the fruitless durbar slowly dissolved, 
but not until the leading men had thoroughly satisfied the curi- 
osity which almost every article of dress or mechanism excited. 


Personally, I amused myself by showing to them several illus- 
trated weekly papers; it was curious to notice that they thor- 
oughly understood the course which the Russo-Japanese war 
was taking, and they looked with great eagerness at the plates 
in which the incidents of the struggle were depicted. But other 
things in the papers puzzled them extremely. They did not seem 
at all impressed by the large portraits of well-known beautiful 
and partially unclad ladies which constituted no small part of 
the attractions of most of the periodicals we had with us, but a 
representation of Dan Leno, seated, if I remember rightly, on 
a pillar with a guitar in his hands, a crown of flowers round 
his head and a skirt round his legs, was something they would 
not allow me to pass by. I confess I found it difficult to explain 
to them exactly all that Dan Leno but two months ago repre- 
sented to the Londoner. Another picture about which they 
wished to know the whole truth was that of His Majesty the 
King walking down a quay-side in Germany. I explained to 
them that the figure to the right was that of the " Pi-ling 
Gyal-po Chempo," and in a moment the attention of twenty 
of them was called from all sides to it; they crowded round 
with their chins on one another's shoulders. After they had 
sated their curiosity about the Emperor of India — that unknown 
majesty in whose omnipotence they were slowly coming to be- 
lieve — I was abruptly asked who his companion might be. It 
was the Kaiser. I tried to explain the family and the politi- 
cal relationship between the two Emperors, but found that I was 
not entirely understood, so I summoned an interpreter and told 
him to explain to the Tibetans that the German Emperor was 
a very great sovereign in Europe and that he was the King's 

* My intentions were, however, somewhat misunderstood, for some time 
afterward, when I asked the interpreter what he had actually said, his answer 
was to this effect:— "Sir, I told them that this was a nephew of the Em- 
peror, and a great and mighty monarch possessing wide territories. And I 


So, in a drizzling rain ended the last day of our weary march 
from India, for there remained but seven miles to cross and 
every yard of them was lightened by the distant view of the 
palace and roofs of our long-sought goal. 

said that because of the especial love with which our Emperor regarded him, 
he had of his goodness granted unto his nephew all the wide territories which 
he possessed." This was not exactly what I had meant,' but it was too late 
to correct the impression. 



THERE was a light rain in the early hours of the morning- 
of the 3d of August. All round the amphitheater of hills 
a light-gray Scotch mist was draining itself imperceptibly into 
the plain, and it was not until just before the start that the 
rain stopped, and the lower edge of these clouds became a clean- 
cut white line slowly receding up the mountain-side as the morn- 
ing passed. Our course was almost due east. We crossed the 
bridge and made our way by the well-defined though somewhat 
weed-grown road between high fields of peas and barley to the 
spur which ran out from the north and hid from our sight the 
monastery of De-bung. It was to be in all a march of about 
seven miles, and after the first three had been passed without 
incident a halt was called just on the western side of the town 
and ruined fort of Shing-donkar. This is a picturesque little 
place nestling at the foot of a high precipitous spur, of which 
the almost horizontal and razor-like summit is supported on a 
roughly columnar edge of granite. Even from Lhasa itself 
it stands out boldly against the sunset, and its jagged edge is a 
small feature in the scenery of which I am somewhat sorry to 
have taken no photograph. The road passes between Shing- 
donkar and the first of the many " lings," or thickly planted in- 
closures, which are characteristic of the plain in which Lhasa 
lies. Immediately afterward the road ascends the stony spur, 
and dropping quickly on the other side follows the contour of 



a recess in the hills before the last point is reached and De-bung 
Monastery is clearly seen. 

De-bung, the home of all the misplaced political intrigfue of 
Tibet, lies in tightly packed tiers of houses far up into the stony 
amphitheater made by a recess in 'the hills. From a distance 
it is a somewhat imposing object; the very compactness with 
which it has gathered into itself, without a straggler far or near, 
the dormitories and chapels needed for nearly 8,000 monks is, 
in itself, a striking thing. In the middle the golden Chinese 
roofs of the great gompa shine above the friezes of maroon and 
brown yak hair curtains, whereby the golden badges hang. For 
the rest. De-bung presents but few features of interest. It is like 
every other monastery in Tibet. Once inside it there is nothing 
to see which differentiates it from the Palkhor choide, from 
the Potala, from Tse-chen, from Dong^se, from a dozen more. 
But all the same, in this monastery of De-bung there has been 
for some years, and there still is, hatched all the trouble which 
the present Dalai Lama has brought upon his country and his 

Not far from it on the eastern side of the amphitheater, and 
so hidden from the sight of Lhasa, in a small tree-clad ravine 
through which a fresh stream tumbles among its boulders, lie 
the house and temple of the chief wizard of Tibet — the Na-chung 
Chos-kyong. This building is finished with more beauty and 
luxury than any other in Tibet, and a full description of it is 
reserved for a later chapter. 

At Cheri the column halted upon the road a mile across the 
debris-littered plain from De-bung. Here Mahommedan butch- 
ers carry on their work, and the first signs of habitations made 
of the horns of slaughtered beasts are to be seen. Soon, how- 
ever, we stretched on again across the causeway between the 
marshes from which teal and wild duck flew up now and then. 
Slowly the two western hills of Lhasa raised and extended them- 

LHASA, I 321 

selves along the horizon, and when at last, after some delibera- 
tion and reconnoitering, a dry patch of ground was found about 
a mile from the still invisible gate of Lhasa and a camp was 
pitched there, the sharp outline of the great palace towered over 
us against the gauzy whiteness of the noonday sky.^ 

Looking eastward from the camp, Lhasa was still completely 
hidden by the twin hills and the neck between them. On the left 
Potala raised its great bulk, though the full size of this gigantic 
building is nowhere less to be seen than from the spot on which 
our camp was pitched. One had a view of it on end which failed 
to give any suggestion of its real length and importance, but what 
we did see even so was huge enough. A white round-tower 
crowned the serrated wall of bald white masonry which divides 
off the palace from the almost perpendicular scarp of the rock on 
which it stands. Behind that rose another great white bulk of 
square grim masonry pierced with a row of stiff small windows ; 
above that rose yet a higher rim of white roof ; over that again the 
square red outline of the central palace of the Dalai Lama himself; 
and, above all, the great golden roofs glittering in the sun. Im- 
mediately below it the slanting way up the rock passed between 
the dark green foliage of trees and the sienna and ocher of the 
Red Hill,^ relieved by spaces of wild grass. Toward us to the 
south and south-west the hillside sheers down steeply before it 
again rises with almost the same abruptness to form the lion- 

^ For sheer inaccuracy the following description by Chandra Das of the ap- 
proach to Lhasa can hardly be paralleled in serious literature. " At this point 
the road nears the river, and the whole city stood displayed before us at the 
end of an avenue of gnarled trees, the rays of the setting sun falling on its 
gilded domes. It was a superb sight, the like of which I have never seen. 
On our left was Potala, with its lofty buildings and gilt roofs ; before us, sur- 
rounded by a green meadow, lay the Town with its tower-like white-washed 
houses and Chinese buildings with roofs of blue glazed tiles." One would 
think that the middle sentence was literally true. 

^ The original name of this hill was simply Marpo-ri, and the palace built 
on the site in 1032 was evidently constructed of blocks quarried on the hill 
itself, for it was known as the Phodang Marpo. 


shaped mass of Chagpo-ri.* Chagpo-ri is crowned with a small 
square yellow Jong, and immediately hidden from view by the top- 
most pinnacle on which the jong is placed is a medical college rest- 
ing, as it were, on the lion's withers. Immediately on the south 
again runs the stream of the Kyi chu. So much could be seen or 
gtiessed from the halting-ground, whence the high road leads 
straight into the western gate between the two high rocky citadels. 
The first thing that the traveler notices is the embankment of sand 
constructed by a Depen of the name of Karpi in 1 72 1 . This man, 
by order of the Chinese conquerors, had immediately before pulled 
down the walls which defended Lhasa more from the assaults of 
nature than of man, and he found it necessary to undertake the 
construction of these enormous retaining walls — to which I have 
referred in the last chapter — to save Lhasa from the encroachment 
of the water-sodden plain around. The Kaling chu is an artifi- 
cially constructed waterway which diverts from the town itself all 
the water coming down toward it from the two valleys lying im- 
mediately north of Lhasa, in one of which Sera Monastery, two 
miles away, is clearly to be seen, a small nest of white houses but- 
tressing the foot of the rock and ensigned with a gilded roof or 
two. This double embankment is a striking feature; the road runs 
paralkl along the northern side of it for 500 yards, and one can 
see the tops of the trees which fillthe square *' ling " or plantation 
abutting on to it to the south. At last the embankment turns 
northward, and we cross it by a primitive bridge under the wide 
branches of a poplar tree. After crossing it the plantation on our 
right is seen to be a tangled jungle of thorn and willow and pop- 
lar, over all of which the thick-petaled orange clematis grows in 
rank profusion. A hundred yards on a road sweeps into our route 
from the right. As we approached, two monks, one of them of 
extreme age, came slowly along it twirling their prayer-wheels 

* It will be remembered that at the first view of Lhasa, Potala and Chagpo-ri 
stood out like two pyramids across the plain. 





LHASA, I 323 

and muttering incessantly the one phrase of Lamaism as they 
went. This is nothing less than the famous Ling-kor, the ribbon 
of road which separates as with a knife the sacred from the pro- 
fane. In all the world there is, perhaps, but the Via Dolorosa its 
equal in tradition. For miraculous renown the Ling-kor stands 
alone, for even an infidel who dies while making the sacred cir- 
cuit is saved from the penalties of his sins. 

To the left, after crossing the highway, it runs beside the sandy 
embankment of the Kaling chu to the north, and then, sharply 
turning, it is hidden behind the trees outside the garden wall of 
the Lu-kang seven or eight hundred yards away. On its surface, 
immediately to our left, are a few beggars' huts, mere patched 
rags of dirty cloth supported on sticks. We crossed the road and 
were in the sacred territory at last. Immediately on the farther 
side we passed the gate of the Kun-de-ling Monastery with its 
woods and gardens and a long rocky eminence crowned with a 
Chinese temple; at its foot a hundred cocks were scratching up 
the sacred dust awaiting a purchaser. The mass of Potala now ', 
hung above our heads, and between us and the western gate there 
was only a straight stretch of road bordered on the one side by a 
little patch of barley and a small orchard of willows, and on the 
right by the still waters of a stagnant willow-edged pool. Over 
the willows rose the mass of Chagpo-ri. Another two hundred 
yards, and after a half-turn to the right round the end of the 
water, we find facing us the western gate of Lhasa, or Pargo Ka- 
ling. We left the gate on our left and at once began the ascent 
of the neck of rock which joins the two hills. There is a steep 
climb of about two hundred feet, and then, with breath-taking 
suddenness, the panorama of Lhasa burst upon the gaze. 

As I have said, Lhasa would remain Lhasa were it but a cluster 
of hovels on the sand. But the sheer magnificence of the unex- 
pected sight which met our unprepared eyes was to us almost a 
thing incredible. There is nothing missing from this splendid 


spectacle — architecture, forest trees, wide green places, rivers, 
streams, and mountains all lie before one as one looks down from 
the height upon Lhasa stretching out at our feet. The dark for- 
bidding spurs and ravines of the valley of the Kyi chu, up which 
we had come, interlock one with another and had promised no- 
thing of all this ; the beauty of Lhasa is doubled by its utter unex- 
pectedness. It is true that we had only yesterday and that very 
day passed through green fields and marshes cloaked shoulder 
high with rushes ; it is true that here and there a densely matted 
plantation had swung slowly beside our road to meet jis as we 
moved along ; but there was nothing— less perhaps in such maps 
and descriptions of Lhasa as we had than anywhere else — to 
promise us this city of gigantic palace and golden roof, these wild 
stretches of woodland, these acres of close-cropped grazing land 
and marshy grass, ringed and delimited by high trees or lazy 
streamlets of brown transparent water over which the branches 
almost met. 

Between the palace on our left and the town a mile away in 
front of us there is this arcadian luxuriance interposing a mile- 
wide belt of green. Round the outlying fringes of the town itself 
and creeping up between the houses of the village at the foot of 
the Total a there are trees — trees sufficiently numerous in them- 
selves to give Lhasa a reputation as a garden city. But in this 
stretch of green, unspoiled by house or temple, and roadless save 
for. one diverging highway, Lhasa has a feature which no other 
town on earth can rival. 

It; is all a part of that splendid religious pride which has been 
the making, and may yet prove the undoing, of Tibet. It was 
right that there should be a belt of nature undefiled encircling the 
palace of the incarnate god and king, and there the belt is, invest- 
ing the Potala even inside the loop of the Ling-kor with some- 
thing of the isolation which guards from the outer world the 
whole of this strange and lovely town. Between and over the 





_; J 

-^ 5 




LHASA, I 325 

glades and woodlands the city of Lhasa itself peeps, an adobe 
stretch of narrow streets and flat-topped houses crowned here and 
there with a blaze of golden roofs or gilded cupolas ; but there is 
no time to look at this ; a man can have no eye for anything but 
the huge upstanding mass of the Potala palace to his left; 
it drags the eye of the mind like a loadstone, for indeed 
sheer bulk and magnificent audacity could do no more in archi- 
tecture than they have done in this huge palace-temple of the 
Grand Lama. Simplicity has wrought a marvel in stone, nine 
hundred feet in length and towering seventy feet higher than 
the golden cross of St. Paul's Cathedral. The Potala would 
dominate London, — Lhasa it simply eclipses. By European 
standards it is impossible to judge this building; there is nothing 
there to which comparison can be made. Perhaps in the austerity 
of its huge curtains of blank, unveiled, unornamented wall, and 
in the flat, unabashed slants of its tremendous south-eastern face 
there is a suggestion of the massive grandeur of Egyptian work ; 
but the contrast of color and surroundings, to which no small 
part of the magnificence of the sight is due, Egypt cannot boast. 

The vivid white stretches of the buttressing curtains of stone, 
each a wilderness of close-ranked windows and the home of the 
hundreds of crimson-clad dwarfs who sun themselves at the dis- 
tant stairheads, strike a clean and harmonious note in the sea of 
green which washes up to their base. Once a year the walls of the 
Potala are washed with white, and no one can gainsay the effect ; 
but there is yet the full chord of color to be sounded. The central 
building of the palace, the Phodang Marpo, the private home of 
the incarnate divinity himself, stands out four-square upon and 
between the wide supporting bulks of masonry a rich red-crimson, 
and, most perfect touch of all, over it against the sky the glittering 
golden roofs— a note of glory added with the infinite taste and the 
sparing hand of the old illuminator— recompose the color scheme 
from end to end, a sequence of green in three shades, of white, of 


maroon, of gold, and of pale blue. The brown yak-hair curtain, 
eighty feet in height and twenty-five across, hangs like a tress of 
hair down the very center of the central sanctuary hiding the cen- 
tral recess. Such is the Potala. In a way it recalls the dominion 
of the Shwe Dagon over Rangoon, though in every aspect of con- 
struction, ornamentation, and surrounding it would be hard to 
imagine two buildings more entirely different in every detail than 
these two greatest erections of modern Buddhism. 

The utter disproportion between the palace and the town re- 
mains a wonder, but a wonder devoid of a trace of falsity or os- 
tentation, rather a wonder full of a deeper meaning. The petty 
town which lies a mile away beyond the trees helps, by its very 
insignificance, to emphasize the tremendous gulf that in Tibet 
yawns between the people and their priests. In that town there 
was indeed the true sanctuary of the faith ; in that town there was 
the idol which the largest faith of all the world holds sacred be- 
yond all earthly things, and underneath those far distant golden 
roofs of the Jo-kang the wealth and tradition of the whole creed 
lay enshrined. Moreover, there is nothing inside the Potala par- 
ticularly sacred, particularly rich, or particularly beautiful. But 
unconsciously it thus symbolizes all the more the vast erection of 
power and pride which separates the priestly caste of Tibet from 
the real truths of the religion they have prostituted. The fearful 
sanctity which hedges about the person of their divine ruler is 
here in Lhasa demonstrated in a manner that must impress the 
dullest pilgrim. That double-edged weapon seclusion, which the 
Pope, in magnificent retirement in the Vatican, is now using with 
doubtful success at Rome, has long been in the armory of the 
Grand Lama of Tibet. The Tibetan* policy of isolation receives 
here its only possible justification by a success that is startling in 
its sufficiency, and one can well understand that a visit to Lhasa 
" satisfies the soul " of the most recalcitrant subject of His Holi- 
ness. I have said much in these volumes to the discredit of La- 

lV*:-i ■ 4fejjp«J§(^|!JV(J^: 

LHASA, I 327 

maism, and I have said it with deHberation and conviction; but 
this panorama of Lhasa batters down helplessly the prejudices of 
a quieter hour. Lamaism may be an engine of oppression, but its 
victims do not protest; and there before one's eyes at last is 
Lhasa, It may be a barrier to all human improvement ; it may be 
a living type of all that we in the West have fought against and 
at last overcome, of bigotry, cruelty, and slavery ; but under the 
fierce sun of that day and the white gauze of the almost unclouded 
sky of Lhasa, it was not easy to find fault with the creed, how- 
ever narrow and merciless, which built the Potala palace and laid 
out the green spaces at its foot. In this paradise of cool water and 
green leaves, hidden away among the encircling snows of the 
highest mountain ranges of the world, Lamaism has upraised the 
stones and gold of Lhasa, and nothing but Lamaism could have 
done this thing. To Lamaism alone we owe it that when at last 
the sight of the farthest goal of all travel burst upon our eyes, it 
was worthy, full worthy, of all the rumor and glamour and ro- 
mance with which in the imaginings of man it has been invested 
for so many years. 

If you will tear your gaze away from the Potala you may see the 
Ling-kor lying below you like a thread, betrayed here and there 
by a gap in the leafage of the gardens. Before you in the distance 
the turquoise Kyi chu, " river of delight," moves lazily between 
its wide white dunes, here elbowed out of its course by a spur of 
the hills, there shorn and parceled by a heavy outcrop of water- 
worn stones and the miniature cliffs of a dazzling sand-bank. 
Across the mile-wide bed of the river cultivation begins again, 
and you may see plantations, fields, and houses all the way up to * 
where the wind-blown buttresses of sand blanket the hollow scarp 
of the southern hills. Far away in the distance beyond the town 
the plain still stretches, always the same marshy expanse jagged 
and indented by the spurs of the encircling hills ; six miles away 


it closes in to the east at the point to which the curving thread of 
the high road to China makes its uncertain way, banked high 
across the morass. 

Just where the dun town encroaches upon the greenery you 
may see clearly the famous Yutok Sampa or Turquoise-roofed 
Bridge. To the right is the Amban's house, almost completely 
hidden in its trees, and on the other side of the Jo-kang's gilded 
canopies, far away to the left, rise the steep, unbeautiful walls of 
the Meru gompa, the last house in Lhasa to the north-east ; to the 
west of it, amid the greenery of its plantations, flash the golden 
ridge-poles of Ramo-che, after the Jo-kang itself the most sacred 
of all temples in Tibet. But, believe me, when you have marked 
these historic points the eye will helplessly revert again to the Po- 
tala; it is a new glory added to the known architecture of the 

Nothing in Lhasa, excepting always the interior of the Jo- 
kang, comes up to this magnificent prelude. If a traveler knows 
that the cathedral doors are hopelessly shut to him, his wisest 
course would be to sit a day or two upon this spur of Chagpo-ri 
and then depart, making no further trial of the town ; for he will 
never catch again that spell of almost awed thanksgiving that 
there should be so beautiful a sight hidden among these icy and 
inaccessible mountain crests, and that it should have been given 
to him to be one of the few to see it. 

The camp was by this time pitched, and the Amban paid 
Colonel Younghusband a formal visit. He and the Dalai Lama 
are the only two in Tibet who are allowed to use the sedan-chair, 
and the sight of the Amban making a formal visit is not un- 
' interesting. He is preceded by ten unarmed servants clad in 
lavender-blue, edged and patterned with black velvet. Immedi- 
ately behind them come forty men-at-arms similarly dressed in 
cardinal and black, bearing lances, scythe-headed poles, tridents, 
and banners ; after them come the secretaries and their servants, 


LHASA, I 329 

and then, borne by ten men, his Excellency In his chair.* There 
was no great importance in this first visit of ceremony. But it 
was returned by Colonel Younghusband on the following day, 
and, if you please, we will ride behind the Colonel as he passes 
through the streets of Lhasa on his way to and from the Resi- 
dency. Now instead of passing to the south of the Pargo Ka- 
ling, we go underneath the gilt-ribbed and celestially crowned 
chorten which tops the western gate between the two guardian 
hills. ^ There is a protective railing of timber along both sides 
of the interior of the gate and a blue deity in his most " terrible " 
aspect is painted on the left-hand wall. 

Immediately inside the gate the road turns to the left, and a 
good view is to be had of the Potala palace rising above the 
walled square of houses and stables and prisons at the foot of 
the rock. Between the gate and this inclosure is a small village 
tucked up under the rock, not more than thirty houses in all, 
dirty, squalid, and stinking, although it is under the very thresh- 
old of the Grand Lama's magnificent residence. Five hundred 
yards on an obelisk rises in the middle of the road; this, which 
is almost opposite the center of the palace, was set up to record 
the pacification of Tibet and the domination of the Chinese in 
1720. The inscription was carved three years later, and it is 
noticeable that in it the name of the Tashi Lama precedes that of 
his brother of Lhasa. The road continues for a little space and 
then divides abruptly into two tracks, that to the left keeping 
straight on toward the palace of the Yabshi family and the 
northern part of the city, that on the right continuing between 

* It is interesting to note that the Chinese have such a contempt for Tibet 
that the viceroy never takes full official dress with him to Lhasa ; negotiations 
were, therefore, carried on with the Amban with less formal ceremony than 
would have been considered necessary under other circumstances, though the 
Commissioner and his staff, to their great discomfort, always wore correct 
diplomatic uniform in their intercourse , with both Chinese and Tibetans. 

* This is in shape a typical " stupa," with the exception that the road passes 
through it, making a clear tunnel in the center. 


fields and green swamps, acres of barley, and willow plantations 
to the Yutok Sampa. 

This bridge is reckoned by the Tibetans and the Chinese to be 
one of the five beauties of Lhasa.^ It is a plain structure, and 
its general character is excellently shown by Countess Helena 
Gleichen's picture. The tiles must have been brought from 
China, and in the course of many centuries the blue glaze, which 
has given the bridge its name, has been worn off from projecting 
edges and points, and the rich Indian red of the clay mingles most 
beautifully with the prevailing color. Inside it is painted with 
the same dull greenish blue as that with which the Pargo Kaling 
is decorated. There are small sacred images under the project- 
ing roof at either end of the bridge, and inside there is a deco- 
rative design on the lintel of the gates. It stretches across a 
swampy marsh through which at that season the water was cut- 
ting small channels, gay with vivid grass and primulas. Through 
the Yutok Sampa the road turned sharply to the left and the 
gate of Lhasa proper was before us ; it is a plain hole in the wall 
without decoration, and without even a door. 

Immediately in front as one penetrates through the wall is 
a wide open space with a stream of water running down between 
weeds and bushes from the left ; following up this direction with 
the eye, the street is seen to turn into a small square, and at one 
end of it a gigantic willow-tree towers high above the flat, low- 
lying roofs. This is the famous tree that grows opposite the 
western front of the Jo-kang, of which one can from the gate 
see but the tops of its golden roofs towering above the dull, flat 
buildings with which the cathedral is surrounded. In front, and 
indeed in all other directions, are the squat, uninteresting mud 
houses of Lhasa. The Chinese quarter, immediately to our right, 

* These five sights are believed by the Chinese to be, with the exception of 
the Jo-kang, or, as they call it, the Ta-chao, itself, the most ancient renaains in 
the capital. 


















LHASA, I 331 

which in general is far better kept than other parts of a Tibetan 
community, is as bad as the others. We turned off in this di- 
rection through the quarter and emerged immediately into another 
wide space of which the unevennesses were indicated by great 
pools of black-scummed water. Under some squalid willows divid- 
ing this open space from the gate, the main drain of the town runs 
fetidly between black banks, passing beneath the very walls of 
the Residency. On these stinking eminences herds of black pigs 
were grouting about among rubbish heaps more than usually re- 
pulsive in their composition. Across the square rose the timber 
gate of the Amban's reserve, and we cavalcaded across to it, 
splashing through the water-pools and jostling from their filthy 
meal the privileged scavengers of the town. 

The Residency deserves no long description: you enter and 
turn to the right between the two usual Chinese " lions," and 
after passing through a couple of courts overhung with poplars 
you arrive in the durbar hall, with its red and green hangings and 
. green and gold-flecked doors. It is a poor little room and the ceil- 
■ ing is adorned with irregularly shaped pieces of paper with a red 
all-overish pattern. Here we had a durbar, and some excellent 
little cigars were handed round alternately with tea — made, we 
were glad to find, after the Chinese habit — and Huntley and 
Palmer's biscuits. Colonel Younghusband intimated to the Ara- 
ban that it would be as well for all concerned if immediate atten- 
tion were paid to the reasonable and proper demands of the 
English. The Amban, as usual, deprecated the foolishness of his 
Tibetan flock, but seemed more preoccupied with the precarious- 
ness of his own position than anything else. His memory dwelt 
somewhat persistently upon the assassinations which had over- 
taken two of his predecessors in office ; and there could be no doubt 
about it that he was honestly relieved when our force encamped 
outside Lhasa. 

The concealed band was playing when we arrived, and this 


again struck up the Oriental melody as we left the place, but the 
bombs which had been exploded in the Commissioner's honor 
on our arrival were not repeated, greatly, I think, to every one's 
relief, for as the first went off we all feared that Macdonald in the 
camp outside would take it as a sign of treachery, and we knew 
that he had his guns laid on the Potala as we sat in durbar in the 

We returned by another route, again crossing the black swamp 
which, it will be remembered, constitutes one of the " five 
beauties " of Lhasa. We passed into the other open space, which 
we crossed diagonally toward the sacred willow. We turned 
up the street I have referred to and passed to the left of the tree 
in its walled inclosure. This diverted the course of the small 
column — 300 rifles had come in with the Commissioner, and we 
had as well forty of the comic-opera guard of the Chinese Resi- 
dency — from passing the actual front of \he Jo-kang. I was, 
however, able to inspect the Do-ring, and get the first glimpse 
of the Cathedral from inside the small paved inclosure bounded 
to the east by the timbered and painted portico and hang- 
ing draperies of the Jo-kang. A crowd of villainous-looking 
monks were gathered sullenly before the great barred doors. 
A description of the Do-ring will be found later on in the chapter 
dealing with the Jo-kang. I rejoined the column which was mak- 
ing its way up toward the Yabshi house, and thence struck off 
sharply to the left along the wide road, or rather the continual 
puddle, which, running between the adobe walls of monasteries 
or well-wooded gardens, brings you back to the foot of the Potala 
and thence to the Pargo Kaling gate. It must be confessed that 
to judge from this itinerary the town itself of Lhasa would com- 
pare but badly with the capital of even a third rate petty chief in 
India. The buildings lack distinction, though on a closer exami- 
nation it must be confessed that the walls of the better houses 
were often soundly built and of strong material. Granite is 













LHASA, I 333 

used in large splintered blocks for nearly every one of the bigger 
houses of the town; but if the original description of the place 
by Father Andrada had any real foundation, the capital of Tibet 
has changed sadly for the worse, for not even the kindliest 
advocate could find in the slosh and filth of every street, or in 
the ramshackle structures which cumber every available inch of 
ground beside the heavier houses, the well-paved thoroughfares 
and dignified architecture which he describes. 

About three hundred yards north of the Jo-kang, before reach- 
ing the Yabshi turning where the chorten stands, the street 
edges along a wide open space, chiefly swamp and ruin, across 
which the Meru gompa can easily be seen. The only interest 
attaching to this gompa is that, so far as can be ascertained, it 
has been built over the site of the old Christian chapel. If the 
actual site of the chapel is not covered by the monastery build- 
ings, it can safely be asserted that the chapel and the surrounding 
buildings of the mission have been totally destroyed, for a space, 
clear of all but a few trees, exists on every side of the present 
Lamasery. The bell of the mission is still in existence in Lhasa. 

The story of this mission has been well told in a recent volume 
by the Rev. Graham Sandberg. Briefly stated, its somewhat in- 
glorious history is this. In 1708 the Propaganda sent four 
Capuchin friars from India through Katmandu and Gyantse to 
Lhasa to found a mission. Three years later the adult conver- 
sions claimed by the whole chain of outposts of the " Tibetan 
mission " were two in number, and as the report from which 
this is taken included the results of proselytization in Bengal 
and in Nepal as well as Tibet, it is perhaps possible that no 
Tibetan had seen reason to change his faith. In 171 3, after a gap 
of two years, missionary effort was again attempted, and in 171 5 
we find the mission once more established in Lhasa. But these 
were troublous times, and the active hostility between the Dalai 
Lama and the Chinese Emperor prevented that tranquillity in 


which alone lay any hopes of successful work for the worthy 
friars. They were in continual danger, and even the valiant 
claim of Father della Penna to have half converted the Dalai 
Lama himself does not convince the student that any serious 
ground had been gained. Mr. Sandberg gives in full the terms 
of a document granting permission to build a Christian chapel 
to the Capuchins. Unfortunately a flood in Lhasa in the follow- 
ing year, 1725, was attributed by the people to the desecration 
of the sacred soil of the city by the erection of a heretical place 
of w6rship. Things became so serious that the regent of Tibet 
himself issued a proclamation affirming that the cause of the 
late floods had been declared by the head of the Sam-ye mon- 
astery to be not the erection of this chapel, but the sins and 
wickedness of the Tibetans themselves. The little church was 
finished and eleven Christians were present at its consecration; 
of this number four or five were, of course, accounted for by the 
monks themselves, and by the admission of della Penna himself, 
the majority of the eleven were N^waris — that is, half-caste 
Nepalese, whose previous religion was almost certainly Mahom- 
medanism. It is even said that the Grand Lama himself visited 
the chapel. 

Some years before, the Jesuits in Rome, with their proverbial 
jealousy, had prevailed upon the Propaganda to send two of their 
number, for no other purpose than that of spying upon the 
work of the mission in Lhasa. It can be imagined what effect 
Was caused by the presence together in Lhasa of rival representa- 
tives of two Christian communities, who could not carry on the 
sacred work with which they were intrusted without betraying 
to the inhabitants the unfortunate dissensions of their Christian 
visitors. Ippolito Desideri, with a Eurasian companion, Manuel 
Freyre, arrived in Lhasa for this purpose on March i8th, 17 16, 
and although a kind of armed neutrality subsisted between the 
two factions, it was probably a relief to all concerned when Pope 



LHASA, I 535 

Clement sent a peremptory order in 1721 that Desideri and his 
companion should leave the country. After a long stay in India 
he returned to Rome and set forth the case for the prosecution. 
The Propaganda, however, after four years' deliberation, decided 
in favor of the Capuchins, but this was only twelve months be- 
fore the flame of Christianity again flickered out in Lhasa in the 
year 1733. 

In 1740, as the result of a direct appeal to Rome by Father 
della Penna, this worthy man again set out with one Cassiano 
Beligatti, of Macerata, and reached Lhasa on the 5th of Jan- 
uary, 1 74 1. The old buildings were re-occupied, but the op- 
position of the lamas was destined to achieve its end, and on 
April 20th, 1745, after four years of dispiriting ill-success, 
that fine old warrior, della Penna, with tears in his eyes, turned 
his back for the last time upon Lhasa and the darling pro- 
ject of his life. It was the death of the poor old man, who 
three months later was laid to rest in the little cemetery of 

By any one who has seen the place there can hardly be con- 
ceived a more despairing and disheartening field for missionary 
effort than that provided by Lhasa. 

Lhasa, it has been said, must be conceived as a town of low 
uninteresting houses herded together in an aimless confusion, 
but beyond question the most ragged and disreputable quarter 
of all is that occupied by the famous tribe of Ragyabas, or beg- 
gar-scavengers. These men are also the breakers up of the 
dead. It is difficult to imagine a more repulsive occupation, 
a more brutalized type of humanity, and, above all, a more 
abominable and foul sort of hovel than those which are char- 
acteristic of these men. Filthy in appearance, half-naked, half- 
clothed in obscene rags, these nasty folk live in houses which a 
respectable pig would refuse to occupy. The characteristic type 
of hut is about four feet in height, compounded of filth and the 


horns of cattle.^ These men exact high fees for disposing cere- 
monially of dead bodies. The limbs and trunk of the de- 
ceased person are hacked apart and exposed on low flat stones 
until they are consumed by the dogs, pigs, and vultures with 
which. Lhasa swarms. The flesh of the pigs is highly esteemed 
in Lhasa, and indeed to the taste it is as good as most pork; 
but after you have seen the Ragyaba quarter and heard the 
story of the manner in which the Tibetans dispose of their dead, 
you will be little inclined to eat it again. 

Chandra Das reports that these Ragyabas are recognized by 
the authorities as a tribe of refuge for all the rascals in the 
country, whose place of origin cannot be ascertained; he also 
mentions a curious legend that if a day passes without a burial, 
if the word may be used, ill-fortune is certain to overtake Lhasa.' 
Recruited from such sources, accustomed to live among sur- 
roundings more disgusting by far than those of the Australian 
aborigines, this guild presents a study which cannot fail to be 

* This horn masonry is one of the best-known characteristics of Lhasa. So 
far as I know it is found nowhere else in the world, and therefore deserves a 
passing mention. It is of two kinds. One sort shows the exquisite regular- 
ity and care with which these horns are at times inserted into the mortared 
surface of a wall, which internally is also strengthened by a rubble also com- 
posed of the same material. In other cases no outside covering is attempted, 
and the horns are simply thrust into a mass of mud wall which probably does 
not survive the year. Of this latter class are the Ragyaba huts. 

* Three other incidents are said to portend disaster to the country: — (i) 
It has long been a proverb that when the snow ceased to fall the English 
would arrive in Lhasa. This, of course, was tantamount to never, but it was 
so far justified on the present occasion that never within the memory of the 
oldest Tibetan had so little snow fallen upon the passes to the south. (2) 
Disaster shall overtake Tibet when rice grows at Phari. If it were true that 
disaster could only come in this way the Tibetans might indeed feel them- 
selves secure, though I believe Mr. Walsh made an amusing but entirely un- 
successful attempt to make use of the short Tibetan summer at Phari for the 
purpose of planting a miniature and carefully tended paddy-field. (3) The 
lowness of the waters in the great lakes is a further sign of impending 
trouble. By common consent the waters of the Bam tso and of the Kala tso 
had never been lower. 












LHASA, I 337 

of interest to the ethnologist : the more ordinary traveler will 
soon have seen sufficient of this loathsome tribe.* 

These men compose the only community peculiar to Lhasa. 
For the rest, lay and cleric alike, the inhabitants are similar 
to those of the rest of Tibet. There is indeed but one difference 
even in the dress. In the province of Tsang, as will be remem- 
bered, the women use a turquoise studded halo as a head-dress; 
in Lhasa a fillet ornamented in the same way is bound close down 
over their Madonna-parted hair. The two braids are then fluffed 
out on either side and fall down over the shoulders. It. is one 
of the most becoming ways of doing the hair that I have ever 
seen, and for a certain type the entire dress of a woman of 
Lhasa would be a not unbecoming costume for a fancy-dress 
ball at home. 

The dress of both men and women is very similar; there is 
a single undergarment and one heavy native cloth robe, dun 
or crimson in color and usually patched, which both sexes pull 
in round the waist with a girdle — the men pouching it at the 
waist to form the only pocket that they use. Into this fold 
of the over-garment the Tibetan slips everything which he will 
need throughout the day, the little wooden bowls in which he 
eats his meals, a brass pot with which to do his cooking, a pair 
of shoes perhaps, and certainly one or two gau-os or charm boxes. 
These last are at Lhasa larger than elsewhere, and are often 
finished with extreme delicacy ; the silver front of the better class 
of gau-o is often beautifully chased in a design which strongly 
resembles good Italian work of the seventeenth century. A 
good specimen will sometimes measure five inches by four by 
two, and it will contain a heterogeneous mass of paper prayers 

'They are, as a rule, considered outcast from every profession or circle 
except their own, but on one occasion the Dalai Lama enlisted the Ragyabas 
into the Lhasa regiment to replace the losses which that corps had sustained 
at Guru. 


and charms and objects specially blessed, such as grain, or pills 
containing the remains of the body of deceased lamas, just as 
in other parts of Tibet. The high officials of state add gold and 
brocade to their dress in an increasing amount until the position 
of sha-pe is reached, when the entire robe is of vivid orange 
yellow brocaded silk, lined with blue; the hat of the sha-pe is a 
Chinese cap of yellow silk turned up with black velvet, and the 
coral or second-class Chinese button is almost invariably worn 
upon it.* 

The. variety of hats at Lhasa is extraordinary. Almost every 
conceivable form of headgear is to be found there, from a yel- 
low woolen Britannia's helmet to a varnished and gilded wooden 
pot with a wide circular brim. One shape suggests an inverted 
flower-pot bearing upon the top a much larger flower-pot the 
right way ujp; others are high Welsh hats of yellow silk with 
a "-cap of maintenance" turn-up of black or yellow, while one 
most remarkable of air is nothing else than a circular pleated 
crimson lamp-shade with a four-inch valance or flounce of the 
same material. The most ai*.tistic headgear in Lhasa is that 
of the servants of the Nepalese Resident. These men wear 
tightly fitting black leather caps with a plain band running 
round them, bearing a flame-shaped ornament of gold or 
silver, held in its place in. front by a plain twisted claw of the 
same material running back on both sides to just above the ears. 

* In China itself the use of these buttons is carefully regulated, though 
every man is permitted by custom to wear the button of one higher class than 
his own ; this, however, does not apply to the use of the first-class button, a 
transparent red color, which is used by the royal family alone. The second- 
class is of opaque pink, the third of transparent blue, the fourth opaque blue, 
the fifth of transparent crystal, the sixth opaque white. Below this comes 
the gold button, which may be worn by any one, and is, therefore, hardly worn 
at all. The use of these buttons in Tibet by officials of different classes is 
very clearly laid down, attention whatever is paid to the rules. The 
coral button, which is the highest permitted to any one in the land, is appar- 
ently used by any and every one who cares to buy it. These remarks do not, 
of course, apply to the Chinese Viceroy and his staff, who naturally keep to 
the stricter rules of their own country. 











LHASA, I 339 

The Tongsa Penlop himself still went abroad with bare feet 
and his uncloven Homburg hat. 

The Nepalese Resident met us when we reached Lhasa. One 
is reminded of him at this moment because his overcoat was one 
of the most gorgeous pieces of Oriental embroidery I had ever 
seen; quietly dressed in all other respects and personally an 
unassuming man, his outer garment made him recognizable at 
a distance of a mile. It was of delicate pink satin sewn all 
over with silver and gold lace and imitation pearls, latticing down 
some really very fine flower embroidery in myrtle green and rose. 
He is a shrewd man, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for the 
common-sense advice he always gave the Tibetans. 

To return to the features of Lhasa. The Ling-kor, or sacred 
way, incloses the city and Potala palace, as has been described, 
with a loop of road, sometimes twenty feet wide, sometimes 
hardly three. It is now a wide sandy expanse from which the 
noonday sun is fiercely beaten back; now a cool firm path under 
the shade of the poplars of the Lu-kang; now an up-and-down 
bridle-track worn smooth and slippery by millions of naked 
footfalls along the limestone cliffs overhanging the Kyi chu it- 
self; now a part of the filthy swine-infested street which skirts 
the dirty Ragyaba quarter, three inches deep in black iridescent 

From dawn to dusk along this road moves a procession, men 
and women, monks and laymen. They shufile along slowly, 
not unwilling now and then to exchange a word with a com- 
panion overtaken— they all go round the same way and therefore 
they meet no one— but, as a rule, with a vacant look of abstrac- 
tion from all earthly things they swing their prayer-wheels and 
mutter ceaselessly beneath their breath the sacred formula which 
shuts for them the doors of their six hells. Let us go round 
with them. 

Coming in from the west, one turns off into the road just 


by the patch of cocks, passing the grimy and squalid yak-hair 
tents of the beggars, where dogs crawl in and out, and in the in- 
tervals give themselves up to the same necessary and Oriental 
occupation as do their masters and mistresses. A field of barley 
and peas is on the right hand, and on the left the sand revetments 
of the Kaling chu. Four hundred yards on, the Ling-kor takes 
a sharp turn to the right after passing a green swamp in which 
the pollard willows stand ankle-deep in clear brown pools; on 
the left the sand-bank which we here leave still hides from 
the pilgrim all sight of the valley to the west. Hard by there 
is a group of tall poplars standing sentinel at the corner of a 
plantation of lower trees, and the glaucous willow-thorn at their 
foot is weighed down with yellow clematis, partly in flower, 
partly in silver-threaded fluff. Over all towers up the wide back 
of the Potala. The turn of the Ling-kor here incloses the Lu- 
kang, which lies at the foot of the Marpo-ri. This is beyond 
question the most beautiful thing in Lhasa, and the Chinese, 
as we have seen, have recognized it by putting it first among 
the five beauties of the place. It is a still lake of clear brown 
water, fringed with reeds and overhung with willows and other 
trees of great age, and it lies low in green-wooded glades, where 
overhead the branches meet. Under foot the turf is fine and 
springy, and in every direction the wealth of undergrowth hides 
from one the fact that it is after all a comparatively small gar- 
den. In the center of the lake is an island entirely covered with 
trees and margined all round with huge rushes. An old flight 
of stone steps betrays in the foliage a scarcely visible pavilion 
with a blue-tiled and gilded roof; here a teal rises from the reeds 
as one approaches, and over them the " thin blue needle of the 
dragon-fly " is poised in myriads. Scarlet, green, dun, light- 
blue and dark-blue, barred, ribbed, transparent, or mailed, the 
dragon-flies vibrate motionless over every piece of water in 
this water-logged city, but the Lu-kang and Lha-lu are their 


The one elephant in Tibet 

LHASA, I 341 

favorite haunts. The Lu-kang, or serpent-house, is so named 
because of the common belief that in the central island lives 
a serpent devil who needs an annual propitiation to keep flood 
waters from the town; the tradition re-appears also in a part 
of the Jo-kang itself, where the underground waters can be 
reached through a narrow and dark channel, and at the Lha-lu 
house a quarter of a mile away from the Lu-kang across the 
swamps. In each of these places there is approximately the 
same tradition connected with the supposed underground lake, 
which is ever ready to engulf the sacred city.^ Immediately 
to the left as one enters the Lu-kang is the courtyard, in which 
the solitary elephant of Tibet is kept. He had a companion 
on the journey up from India destined for the Grand Lama of 
Tashi-lhunpo, but that one died— it would naturally have been 
that one. 

The Ling-kor runs on through barley-fields to the east until 
it reaches the green trees overhanging the wall of the Royal 
Pastures at Re-ting, where the late regent, put to death in prison 
by the present Grand Lama ten years ago, had his residence. 
The temporary regent, whom we found in occupation in Lhasa, 
did not take up his residence here, as he had been appointed 
for a special emergency only. Soon after this Ramo-che is 
passed on the right hand. This somewhat uninteresting temple 
is reckoned in Tibetan eyes as inferior to the Jo-kang alone, 
and claims a clearly impossible antiquity; it is a medieval build- 
ing of an undistinguished type, and the gilded roof is the pretti- 
est thing about it. It contains, according to Chandra Das, only 
a collection of military relics, shields, spears, drums, and swords, 

*It is not unlikely that this bogy has been created, or, at any rate, per- 
petuated, at the Lu-kang to scare away trespassers from the favorite picnick- 
ing ground of the Dalai Lama. His windows look out from the back 
directly down upon the Lu-kang. No well in Lhasa need be more than six 
feet deep, a fact which undoubtedly lies at the root of the subterranean lake 


and the image of King Srong-tsan-gambo's Nepalese wife. 
Nothing is more remarkable in Lhasa than the interior destitu- 
tion of every temple except the Jo-kang itself. Nothing has 
been allowed to compete in even the most timid way with this 
august repository of the faith. The only other temple which 
is of peculiar interest besides the Jo-kang is the temple of the 
Chief Magician outside the walls, of which a full description 
will be given elsewhere. 

Still going onward, the Ling-kor, now a pebbly length of 
banked-up causeway, curves round to inclose the Meru gompa 
on the extreme north-east of the town; here it touches the deep 
irrigation channels which drain off the water from the swamps 
in this direction, flat, treacherous, and wickedly green. This 
water-course is bridged by the Min-duk Sampa, or bridge of 
the Pleiades, over which the Chinese trade route runs into the 
city. The Ling-kor here becomes acquainted with strange sur- 
roundings, and it becomes but a dirty and befouled track run- 
ning between houses of increasing squalor and disrepute. Thrust 
out on the eastern side are the shambles of Lhasa, for life may 
not be taken within the sacred precincts of the city, as was noted 
by Friar Oderic more than five hundred years ago. But this 
respect does not prevent the via sacra of the faith from being 
used as a refuse heap for the raw scraps of bone and skin and 
ugly red flesh from the butchers' shops which are thrown here 
to be mouthed and quarreled over by mangy dogs and the out- 
lying scouts of the pig battalion. 

The Ling-kor, now curving round the eastern side of the city, 
skirts the quarter where, as everywhere else in the world, the 
poor are congregated, and there are on all sides broken-down 
hovels with unrepaired holes, and empty window-holes grimy 
with the continual fog of smoke inside. On our left hand as 
we go round beside the swampy flats of Pala, which stretch out 
westward toward the distant river, the treacherous quagmire 

LHASA, I 343 

comes right up to the causeway on which the Ling-kor is now 
raised, though here and there a square plot of ground has been 
reclaimed from the morass and nourishes good barley, or a small 
plantation is set about a tiny poor house. But bad as this quarter 
is, it is respectability itself compared with the Ragyaba quarter, 
which we shall reach the moment we turn the corner to the right 
and begin to retrace our steps westward to Chagpo-ri and the 
Pargo Kaling. But before we reach the corner we notice the 
great heap of stones, another relic of the piety of pilgrims, who 
here lose or catch their first sight of the Potala palace.* As we 
retraverse the Ragyaba quarter the remembrance of a previous 
day is outrun by the reality of the moment ; the foulness of these 
homes is equal to but, I think, more repulsive than that of Phari. 
It is true it is confined to a small quarter in Lhasa, but there 
is not here the saving grace of bitter cold to excuse, and possibly 
mitigate, the dirt and stench, and as one rode through them 
one could hardly imagine that one's own brothers and sisters 
of the human race were actually content to live in these low 
piggeries scattered here and there over the reeking black mud, 
which had long been churned into a greasy soup by the picking 
feet of the black swine that swarm throughout the quarter. Yet, 

* I have said that pilgrims on the sacred way move always the way of the 
sun. But if the explanation of the heap of stones, which was given me by a 
lama, is true, it is clear that a certain number must go in the opposite direc- 
tion, for the heap of stones to which I refer is placed exactly where the sight 
of the Potala is lost, not gained, by one going round the sacred way in the 
usual mannen. On this whole question of the rotation of Lamaism I have 
throughout given the conventionally held view rather than a personal one. It 
is perfectly true that chortens and such things are passed on the road, as a 
rule, by the wayfarer keeping to his left. It is true that prayer-wheels are 
generally swung in the same direction, but on two occasions I have noticed on 
the sacred way itself an intelligent-looking monk briskly wheeling his prayer 
instrument in the opposite direction, and the ready explanation of some that 
this was a monk of the Beun-pa will not hold good, for the men were cer- 
tainly following the usual circuit. The question of the swastika I have al- 
ready alluded to, and I am inclined to think that although what I have said 
is, without doubt, the general rule of the faith, yet less importance is attached 
to it than is generally supposed. 


strangely enough, here are the flowers of Lhasa. In these foul 
surroundings tl^ey bloom better than elsewhere— clean, upstand- 
ing hollyhocks, radiant of gentility; old-world stocks, with 
dainty crimson flowers and fine gray-green leaves; nasturtiums 
trailing their torn trumpets of fire, opal and gold, over the 
carrion filth of these decaying walls. It reminded one of the 
jeweled butterflies wheeling over the dirt of the Riang road. 

On the left is a row of willows hedging about a water meadow, 
across which are two of the " lings," or gardens, which surround 
Lhasa.* Soon after this the wide black pools which mark the 
clearing in front of the Amban's house appear to the right, but 
the Ling-kor runs on below the willow-trees on the left, to the 
green plantations which have now taken the place of the houses ; 
for now Lhasa proper has been left behind and we are moving 
along the southern side of the woodland waste between it and 
the Potala palace. The town has given place to the woodland, 
and the woodland will soon give place to the rock. Seven hun- 
dred yards on through this green avenue with a stream beside 
us moistening the roots of the willows brings the pilgrim to a 
sharp upstanding spur of stone. 

It is not one of the least extraordinary things connected with 
Lhasa that no visitor, traveler, or spy seems to have made the 
complete circuit of the Ling-kor. Not only are the maps we 
possess consistently wrong in a matter about which no mistake 
can possibly be made by any one who has seen the place, but no 
account or description has hitherto been given of one of the 
rnost remarkable features of Lhasa. The steep limestone cliffs 
fall sharply down beside the running stream which here is 
merged into the wide flood of the Kyi chu. One of the chan- 
nels of this river actually washes the base of this limestone 

* It was in one of these that the Commissioner was invited to take up his 
residence on his arrival in the city, but the place was inconvenient for many 
reasons and the Lha-lu house was chosen instead. 

LHASA, I 345 

outcrop, and the path has been cut out of the rock three feet 
wide in the manner of the ordinary mountain trang. It slowly 
rises to a height of nearly a hundred feet, almost every yard of 
the way being marked by images, chortens, or deep-cut mantras 
on the rock. Flat stones in innumerable quantities, bearing the 
unvarying formula, are carefully set up on end; tens of thou- 
sands of little clay medals, bearing some religious impress, are 
strewn on every ledge. On the top of this ascent one looks 
away over the wide waste of the Kyi chu river, and there are Qmm- -z. 'V^^*^ 
few sights in the world more beautiful than that which here 
meets the eye. Far and wide the sunlit river stretches its shal- • 
lows; one could almost believe that Lhasa was an island in 
a lake, and the picturesque foliage of the trees and flowers that 
rise at the foot of the long slaty cliffs, just where the southern 
sunshine washes them all day and the rock gives out its warmth 
to them all night, are more luxuriant than anywhere else beside 
the sacred way. The Ling-kor descends here somewhat abruptly, 
finding a foothold at the base of the rocks by which you may 
climb from here to Cha^po-ri — it is as it were the sprawled near 
hind-leg of the couching lion of stone. 

Now the most impressive sight of all the Ling-kor is in front 
of us. It is a gigantic rock, flat and facing the stream squarely ; 
the whole surface is a close-set gallery of Buddhas of all sizes and 
colors, jostling each other's knees in their profusion ; at a distance 
in the sunlight it looks as if a vast carpet of vivid color has been 
thrown over the face of the rock. There can hardly be less than 
twenty thousand of these figures, the majority being small image;^ 
but two inches high, cut in symmetrical rows by hundreds upon 
a convenient surface of the rock itself, or propped up on detached 
slabs against the cliff side. Others, from nine inches to two feet 
in height, cover the entire surface of the great rock disposed round 
the big Buddha in the center. He is twenty feet in height, and 
below him in enormous gaudy letters of the deepest relief is the 


parent mantra of all the '"'' om mani padme hums " of Tibet. Each 
letter is cut six feet in height out of the living rock, and the total 
length of the text must be thirty feet at least; the colors of the 
letters follow each other in this order — white, green, yellow, slate, 
blue, red, and dark indigo.^ 

Twenty yards on there are two small flat housei in a garden of 
their own, where the road turns inward a little, and the path 
passes away into a wide and well-kept road, fringed on either side 
by green plantations overhanging adobe walls. A hundred yards 
later a common is reached, which the Ling-kor incloses by making 
a sharp right-angled turn at the opposite side of it. Strictly 
speaking, the pilgrim should throughout his circumambulation 
keep to the actual track, but the slant across the common which 
cuts the corner is suspiciously well worn. Another point at which 
a deviation is apparently made is in the omission of that part of 
the Ling-kor which goes outside the Lu-kang. Here my syce met 
an old friend whom he had known in Gangtok in former days, 
and though she was obviously off the main route, she still assured 
Tsering that she was performing the ceremonial circuit. After 
all, your Tibetan is a very human person. 

A quarter of a mile further on the road, still running north, 
meets our starting-point underneath the rock on which the Chi- 

^This is the sacred sequence, and I was glad to find in this classical ex- 
ample in Lhasa corroboration of the frequent notes that I had made on the 
way up. It is to be noted that the coloring of the last symbol but one care- 
fully distinguishes between the D and the M of which it is composed, the 
upper symbol D belonging strictly to the previous syllable pa; the coloring of 
the vowel sound above it indicates the relationship of the vowel to the under- 
written M. The Lamaic tradition attaches considerable importance to the 
proper distinction of the vowels of this great formula. 

This difference in color between the D and the vowel mark above it is in 
this case almost the only remaining proof that there ever was an M at all, 
for the whole of the rock at this most holy point has been worn into the most 
gigantic "cup-mark" in the world. There is a smooth, worn hole three or 
four feet in depth and height and five feet in length, from or into which the 
pious either throw, or take, a pebble, for the dust of it is accounted miracu- 
lous in its efficacy for diseases of both soul and body. 

LHASA, I 347 

nese temple stands. At this point, it will be remembered that the 
buildings and gardens of the Kun-de-ling press upon the road 
itself. These " lings "—the word literally means a garden— are 
four in number ; they represent four lamaic colleges from among 
whose members the regent of the Dalai Lama was in old days in- 
variably chosen. From this rule an apparent exception was made 
in the middle of last century, and if the sudden demise of the 
Dalai Lama should make it necessary for the hierarchy to elect a 
new regent, it is more than probable that they would select some 
one from De-bung or another of the great monasteries outside the 
walls in whose hands the political power is now wholly vested. 
The tradition, however, has in the past been a useful check upon 
intrigue. Of the other lings, Tengye-ling is a large but uninter- 
esting building which one passes on the right, if, instead of 
branching down to the Yutok road from the Potala palace, one 
keeps straight along by the road which, as I have noticed on the 
occasion of our first entrance into Lhasa, is as a rule one continu- 
ous puddle. Here the Tongsa Penlop took up his abode, with 
unerring judgment, for Tengye-ling is quite the most comfortable 
of the four. If, however, his followers adopted the same methods 
in Lhasa as had marked their progress to the city, it is more than 
likely that the sacred treasures of Tengye-ling have been seriously 
reduced in number by this lime. Chomo-ling is an insignificant 
structure, almost concealed in trees, not far from Ramo che, and 
the fourth and last is Tsecho-ling, which is outside the city alto- 
gether, across the river to the south. 

With this brief survey of the course taken by the I<ing-kor this 
chapter must end, though we shall have to return across its sacred 
ribbon when the gem of all that lies within it is to be described, 
and the reader will be asked to penetrate with me into that holiest 
of all holies, the Jo-kang, or the very " place of God " itself. 



IMMEDIATELY after his arrival in Lhasa, Colonel Young- 
husband had asked that a proper residence should be provided 
for him. To this request there was, of course, the usual Tibetan 
demur, more the result of habit than intention, whereupon the 
Colonel announced his willingness, and, if some action were not 
at once taken by the Lhasan officials, his intention to occupy 
Norbu-ling, the summer residence of the Grand Lama just out- 
side the Ling-kor and within a few hundred yards of the point on 
which our camp had been pitched. This veiled threat brought 
the Tibetans to some sense of the respect that must be paid to the 
English representative, and they even went so far as to say that 
any one of the houses of the Sha-pes was at his disposal if only 
he would leave Norbu-ling alone. In the end Lha-lu house, the 
finest private residence in Tibet, was placed at the Commission- 
er's disposal, and the Mission moved into it on August 12th. The 
reason of this perturbation on the part of the Tibetans was simply 
that Norbu-ling is the summer residence of the Dalai Lama. 
It has a perfectly square garden or plantation, surrounded by a 
well-built wall, each side being a quarter of a mile in length, and 
to secure greater seclusion — though it is difficult to imagine what 
trespassing can be possible over this stout barrier — a second wall 
has been built inside the outer barrier for nearly its whole extent. 
Inside this again is a house and a temple of no pretensions what- 
ever, save that, from the distance, a small gilded roof and half-a- 
dozen golden " gyan-tsens " distinguish it somewhat. The only 















acquaintance we ever had with the interior of Norbu-ling was 
that obtained by looking down upon the whole plain of Lhasa 
from the high crest of the hill across the river. No member of 
the force penetrated into the inclosed garden, and therefore the 
vague stories we were told about it by the natives are all that there 
is to report. They really seemed to know as little of the interior 
as ourselves. It was built in its present form only eight years 
ago, and as a residence for the Dalai Lama does not claim a 
greater antiquity than 1870. The trees bear out this statement, 
for they are nearly all of small dimensions. The Dalai Lama 
lives here for two months in the summer, observing the same 
state as before, and hedged about with an even greater seclusion 
than that which marks him at his palace on the rock a mile away. 
There was a rumor during our stay in Lhasa that the Dalai Lama 
was actually in hiding in Norbu-ling, and it is beyond question 
that a large number of European rifles were stored in this pleasure 
house. The Dalai Lama, however, when once he had turned his 
back upon the people committed to his charge, never looked back, 
and if the latest reports, at the time of writing, be true, the soon- 
to-be-deposed pontiff must have made his way hot-foot to Urga, 
in Mongolia, where he remains the unwelcome guest of his spir- 
itual brother, the Taranath Lama. 

The outer walls of Norbu-ling are, as I have said, of splendid 
workmanship, and they offer a good example of the peculiar 
stone-laying of Lhasa. Divided by lines, three "stretchers" 
deep, of stone almost as thin as a tile, the greater blocks are 
ranged in courses separated from each other by splinters of gran- 
ite set horizontally and symmetrically between the bigger lumps. 
This is the universal method of laying the masonry of Lhasa; it 
will be found throughout the province of U and in rare cases in 
Tsang also, but we found it is specially characteristic of Lhasa, 
though I do not know how far the custom has extended to the 
East. The upper part of this wall is f riezed above a string course 


with maroon red and at the south-east corner there is a curious 
and unexpected symbol of a religion with which Lamaism should 
have nothing in common. Half-way along the southern side, 
where there is but fifteen yards between the water of the Kyi chu 
and the wall, is a latticed projection containing about 430 small, 
well-designed images of the Master, and one strangely inconse- 
quent white china figure of a lady on a beast, which might have 
come from Germany. Here there was good fishing, and beside 
this little shrine the " Nightmare " ^ put off his panoply of war 
and deftly drew the mud-barbel from the waters of the Kyi chu. 

As we have said, this haunt was left inviolate, and the Mission 
established itself at the Lha-lu house. This is a large and sub- 
stantial building, seven or eight hundred yards away from the 
Lu-kang ford of the Kaling chu, twelve hundred yards north-west 
from Potala. There is a road across the marsh to it so that one 
may arrive there dry-shod, but, like most other places on the Plain 
of Milk, the luxuriance of its gardens and plantations is greatly 
due to the fact that the soil is saturated with water. This, it will 
be remembered, is one of the five beautiful things, and well it de- 
serves the name. Always excepting the Lu-kang, there is nothing 
in Lhasa, not even the vegetation near the Sacred Rock, that 
equals the luxuriance of this spot. 

The house itself is built round a large, open quadrangle with 
galleries on three sides of it in the usual way; the northern side 
of this quadrangle is the southern wall of the main house, and 
here Colonel Younghusband took up his quarters. Some descrip- 
tion of a typical Tibetan house should be given in these pages, and 
a better example than Lha-lu cannot, as I have said, be found. 

^This we fpund to our amusement was Captain Ottley's recognized name 
among the Tibetans. There is a good deal to be said for the appHcability 
and picturesqueness of the title, and its universal adoption by the Tibetans 
betrays the terror with which the ubiquitous mounted infantry inspired the 
people along the road. The work done by Captain Peterson and Lieutenant 
Bailey in the same corps was invaluable. 








Over a small stream in front of the house one passes by a bridge 
obliquely into the courtyard. The outer walls of the house are 
of no importance, and the quadrangle itself, though paved, is 
muddy and generally heaped with odds and ends; all round the 
base under the first balcony the horses and mules of the owners 
are as a rule ranged, but on our arrival in the place our beasts 
were banished to more convenient quarters outside. Hence, im- 
mediately in front of one rose the considerable mass of the main 
residence ; on the left, a door led into an inclosed garden and to- 
ward the summer-house and temple, beautifully set about with 
foliage. On the right a similar doorway led to the menials' build- 
ings and lesser stablings. Crossing the courtyard, one enters the 
house by a small and insignificant door in the center of its south- 
ern side. The mud, through and over which one has gingerly ta 
pick one's way, stepping from stone to stone, enters the house as 
freely as ourselves, and in the sudden dark one can only just dis- 
tinguish the corner down which a precipitous ladder slants. It is 
impossible here to choose one's steps, so one plunges through the 
mud and stones to reach the base of the ladder, which, it must be 
remembered, is the only way in which a visitor or resident, high 
or low, can reach the house itself. Up the slippery iron-sheathed 
treads one goes, clinging desperately to the polished willow hand- 
rail, and at the top one is confronted across the passage by the 
durbar room of the house. 

This is also the chapel, and three seated figures of gilt bronze,, 
properly draped with katags, are ranged in recesses along the op- 
posite wall. On either side of them the wall is pigeon-holed for 
books. No photograph can even suggest the decoration of this 
room. Color covers every single square inch of wall space or 
pillar from end to end. Scarlet and emerald green, gold and 
Reckitt's blue predominate to the exclusion of half-tones, harmo- 
nizing, however, more than would be thought possible. Above 
this room, which is lighted by a vertical opening in the roof, is- 


the floor on which the family lives, and it is curious to emerge 
from the mud and untidiness of the ground level to the dainty 
finish of this beautiful series of rooms. There were seventeen 
living rooms, and of these ten were decorated in the same lavish 
manner as below. Ornament was not confined to the walls ; lat- 
ticed Screens of paper, silk, and even glass separated one part of 
a room from the other, and all and everything were figured with 
richly tinted specimens of local or Chinese draftsmanship. 
Colonel Younghusband took up his abode in the central room 
overlooking the courtyard. From immediately above his window 
ran many ropes on which huge sun-blinds should have rested. 
But these, with all the other furniture of the house, had been taken 
away by the young representative of the Lha-lu family before 
wife came to occupy the family mansion. This clearance was done 
at our request, as we had, or could obtain, sufficient furniture for 
our own needs, and we did not wish to run the risk of damaging 
our host's property. 

Alinost the only thing left in the house was a cheap pendulum 
clock made by the Ansonia clock company. These very rare re- 
currences of Western civilization never influenced the intensely 
Oriental seclusion of Lhasa. One noticed them from time to time 
with a shock— a shock of regret, it must be said — for if Lhasa be 
not free from the cheapness of machine-made manufactures, what 
place on earth can be ? One remarkable exception to this rule of 
exclusion must be mentioned. Umbrellas with the touching guar- 
antee " waterproof " pasted inside the peak are fairly common at 
Lhasa, whither they must have come from India, where their use 
is widely spread. But except for these occasional adoptions, the 
race of men who dwell in Lhasa remains in thought and word 
and deed unchanged and, perhaps, unchangeable from that which 
listened to Tsong-kapa's passionate appeal for reform, or, before 
his day, to the deep learning of Atisha, or, earlier still, to the 
blasphemies of the apostate Lang-darma in the dawn of Tibetan 
history. Lhasa never changes. 


















The gardens of Lha-lu are, as I have said, almost a swamp. 
On the only really dry portion of them two buildings have been 
erected, one half summer-house, half temple, the other a glazed 
greenhouse ; these are not of any great interest, though the former 
is of considerable age, and underneath the dirt collected on the 
frescoes the exquisite finish of the painting can still be distin- 
guished. To make a circuit of these beautiful grounds one leaves 
the summer-house and strikes across to the west, picking one's 
way along the higher and drier " bunds " beneath the willow trees 
and among swarms of dragon-flies, as fearless and as thick as 
midges in England. Mr. White and I went for a photographic 
excursion one morning, and he made some excellent plates. Few, 
I think, will prove as beautiful as those of the water-meadows of 
Lha-lu. You can roam about among them at the back of the 
house for half a mile, and then you will strike a little wooded 
track, for all the world like a hazel-canopied lane in Devonshire. 
Kitchen gardens adjoin Lha-lu house to the east, and the little 
hovels in which the gardeners live are pressed up against the walls 
of the lane which divides the house from these grounds, but in 
every other direction there is a water-sodden stretch of plain or 
plantation across which artificial roads alone give one a dry-shod 

Sera Monastery lies due north of the town and De-bung, not 
three miles distant, lies west-north-west. There was an interest- 
ing morning spent outside the latter place. The monks who had 
undertaken to supply us with tsamba failed utterly to keep their 
promise within the given time, and it became necessary to enforce 
our demands. The little column therefore moved out of camp one 
day with the guns and made ready to occupy the wide-stretching 
waste of white monastery. After waiting for two or three hours, 
however, the monks thought it wiser to comply, and, in the Gen- 
eral's opinion, enough was given on the spot as earnest of a future 
delivery to justify him in abandoning his intentions. On this oc- 
casion I made first acquaintance with a temple to which I had pre- 


viously referred as, of all the buildings of Lhasa, second only in 
interest to the Jo-kang. This is the exquisite temple and house 
belonging to the Chief Magician of the country. Half a mile 
short of De-bung, it lies almost concealed in the lower trees of a 
deep ravine running up into the hills, the only part of it which is 
visible from a distance being the golden roof. 

Returning on the following day, Mr. Claude White and I made 
a careful tour of inspection through all the buildings of the place, 
being received by the monks with the utmost hospitality. In 
many ways this temple stands on a plane of its own, and is not 
entirely typical of other similar structures in the country, but it 
was more interesting therefore to make such close acquaintance 
with an institution unique in the world. Going among the white- 
washed houses at the foot of the monastery, I took a photograph 
which shows the essential difference which distinguishes this little 
community from that of almost every other district in Tibet. It 
might almost be part of an Italian town in those very Marches 
of Ancona from which the Capuchin community of Lhasa was 
drawn. In the early days of the eighteenth century, some fleeting 
memory of far-distant Macerata may well have home-sickened 
for a moment Costantino or Beligatti as the pair turned in from 
the wide, flat Plain of Milk toward the wooded little temple of 
the chief wizard. 

The temple itself may be reached either from the left, or more 
directly up the sharp flight of steps which faces the reader in the 
picture here. To the main entrance, that to the left, the visitor 
makes his way circuitously, passing beside a luxuriant little plan- 
tation of deep grass, where rambling shrubs and trees grow so 
thickly that they almost make a twilight round their stems. As I 
was passing this on one occasion there was a sound from the hid- 
den depths of the wood which was like nothing in the world so 
much as the subterranean roar which heralds Fafnir's unwieldy 
entrance. I suppose that really some of the younger monks were 


being taught to blow a sixteen-foot trumpet, but the sound was 
one which added the last note of mystery to the scene. Fifty 
yards further, we arrive opposite the main entrance on the right. 
I am not sure that this temple is not, the Cathedral always 
apart, the most interesting thing in Tibet. It is small, entirely 
complete in itself, finished ad unguem, daintily clean, and had evi- 
dently received more money and attention than any other gompa 
on our road. The well-wooded ascending track of the valley be- 
side which it is built continues upward after it has debouched 
into the courtyard, which here, as everywhere, divides the main 
gateways of the temple from the usual row of cloistered frescoes 
opposite. The scene herens of unusual beauty and interest; it is 
very seldom in Tibet that the contrast of luxuriant foliage and 
vivid temple color is obtained. There is a peculiar color har- 
mony which distinguishes the Na-chung Chos-kyong. Green 
there is in the background, green of more shades than a camera 
can detect, and the deep, claret brown of the temple buildings is 
handsomely accentuated above by golden roofs, and harmonizes 
well below with the plain gray ocher of the courtyard stones, and 
the interminable strings of gauzy fluttering prayer-flags of every 
tint between the two. To his left are the vivid colors of an ap- 
palling fresco of flayed human bodies, skulls full of blood, and in 
general those gory heaps of human vitals which seem peculiarly 
attractive to the pious Tibetan mind. On his right the flight of 
steps will take him into the temple itself. He enters at the side 
of the great cloistered courtyard and passes through a double- 
pillared corridor ornamented with armor and weapons of strange 
make, out and again into the sunlight of the quadrangle. In the 
middle of the court, in front of him now, as he turns to the left, 
are the main entrances of the temple behind the many-pillared ar- 
cade ; they are screened by heavy yak-hair curtains through which 
one can catch a glimpse of a gaudy wealth of color on wall and 
pillar and ceiling, and of the five or six great doors, scarlet and 


cardinal and flesh color. In the middle of the courtyard, imme- 
diately in front of him, is a little tree growing in a perforated 
square-stone lattice, within which, all around its stem, is a proud 
bank of English hollyhocks and a few vivid nasturtiums tumbling 
carelessly through the lower interstices of the trellis. Beside it is 
a pillar about eight feet high, with a tiny roof of gold atop. 
Just over the edge of the temple entrance appears, high up against 
the blue, the great golden roof, and standing guard by it many 
gyan-tsen, gilded and fluttering with overlapping flounces of 
silk, salmon and olive and rose-madder. 

The presiding deity of this temple has long fled away with his 
master, the Dalai Lama, but the services go on and the temple 
is lovingly cared for in his absence. So far as one may make 
a guess at the character of a man from his house, it is easy to see 
that the Chief Magician of Lhasa is of an unusually refined and 
dainty taste ; the care which is visible in every corner of this tem- 
ple we had not found even suggested in any other building in the 
country. It looked as though a housemaid had been round with 
a duster an hour before our arrival. The abbot of the monastery 
received us very courteously and was interested and amused by 
Mr. White's large camera.^ While he was taking a series of 
views in the pillared arcade outside the doors of the shrine, I sat 
down and hastily recorded a suggestion of the coloring of this 
arcade. I can claim with pride that the attractions of Mr. White 
paled in a second beside the interest which a four or five deep ring 
of monks took, not so much in my painting as in my paint-box. 
Some one — he presumably was the artist of the community— was 
hurriedly sent for, and when he came, must have severely taxed 

^It was an unfailing source of mystification to the Tibetans to be allowed 
to look at the reversed picture in the ground glass under the black velvet. 
The curious thing is that, so far as we could find out from their exclamations, 
they did not often recognize the reversed picture as that of the scene in front 
of the lens. It was for them merely a beautiful pattern of varying colors 
seen in a singularly effective mariner. 


The roofs of the houses are made of golden plates 


his own ingenuity in his gesticulating and fluent account of such 
mysteries as a block of Whatman's " hot pressed " and a type- 
writer eraser. No one in Tibet ever draws anything in front of 
him, so it was, perhaps, a lenient crowd of critics that watched my 
rapid daubs of color as I sketched the temple. The colors were 
blinding in their vividness and juxtaposition, and the whole of 
this arcaded temple-front was painted from end to end in the 
same gorgeous manner. Not a corner of the roof has escaped the 
brush of the painter or the hand of the gilder ; the pillars, reported 
more nobly tinted still, were wound round and round from top to 
bottom with crimson cloth, so carefully sewn that we had not the 
face to ask the monks to uncover one; nothing, however, could 
have added much to the incredible play of gaudy hues. 

Soon afterward the great doors, each bearing a monstrous rep- 
resentation of a flayed human skin, were opened for us and we 
went inside into the temple itself. This, too, was clean and as 
bright in color as the portico, though the mellowed light which 
filtered through awnings and screens from above took off some- 
what from the painful edge of contrast and crudity. 

The ornamentation throughout this temple was of its own 
kind. It differed in many ways from that which is usually in 
vogue in Tibet ; every doorway has a beading of human skulls or 
decapitated heads cut roughly out of wood and painted minutely ; 
long hangings of black satin, from the lower edge of which the 
same heads, with long black tresses of silk, hang helplessly, frieze 
the walls, and a curious and ghastly pot-pourri of skulls, entrails, 
eyeballs, brains, torn-out tongues, and human beings suffering 
every conceivable mutilation and torture which man has ever de- 
vised, adorn the walls below. Underneath this again was a dado 
of souls burning in hell-fire. But it says much for the ability of 
man to adapt himself to his surroundings that, after a moment, 
even these sights were not entirely disagreeable, and one could 
soon see beneath these horrible representations the same spirit of 


devotion which moved the pen of a Dante or the brush of a four- 
teenth-century Benedictine. 

At the far end of the temple, opposite the doors, is the sanctu- 
ary, a wide and deep inner chapel. Here a striking departure 
from the customary arrangement is to be seen; in the central 
and advanced position, elsewhere invariably occupied by the 
largest image of Buddha that the foundation possesses, was the 
empty seat of the Magician himself; on it were heaped his cere- 
monial robes, his sword of office, and a small, circular shield 
of exquisite workmanship, ornamented with a golden " Hum " 
in the center. Into the top of the shield was inlet an irregular 
lump which may have been merely colored glass, but which 
looked extraordinarily like one of those guava- jelly-like lumps 
of polished but uncut spinel ruby which are not infrequently 
found among the treasures of Indian rajahs. Behind this silver- 
gilt throne was an embossed silver proscenium, framing in the 
dispossessed Buddha. To the right of it hung the state crown 
of the Magician, which is a beautiful piece of work, charmingly 
finished ivory skulls alternating with florets of silver heavily 
powdered with imitation diamonds; round the circlet itself were 
several large imitation sapphires, relieved here and there by 
some really good turquoise lumps.* All round this chapel were 
cupboards and recesses of which the orifice was in every case 
entirely concealed by knotted katags. Pushing them aside, 
one could discover dimly in the darkness beautifully finished 
brass images, half life-size, either of some repulsive god-mon- 
ster, or of some one of those groups which, go where you will 
in Tibet, are accepted as necessary and inevitable symbols of a 
worship which, in its essence, is purity itself. In one place or 
another were lying about here the Oracle's gorget, mask, bow, 

^It was a little difficult to examine this crown, from the darkness of the 
chapel; but this is, so far as I can remember it, a fair description of the 


and divining-glass, and though he had been gone for four weeks 
or more, he might have stepped back that evening and found 
his shrine ready and to the last detail arranged for service. 
Mr. Claude White was lucky enough to persuade the monks to 
sell to him the little circular shield I have described. They said 
they could easily replace it, and I am inclined to think that they 
made more than a trifle out of the transaction. 

We descended the two or three steps of this dais, down on to 
the chunam floor of the outer temple.* On either side of the 
main aisle were twelve huge drums, and thick heavy cushions lay 
out in an avenue toward the great doors. On the right, as one 
came down the sanctuary steps, was a very large silver chorten 
against the far wall, studded in profusion with lumps of raw 
amber, as big as, and not much unlike, golden pippins. We 
came out again into the sunshine of the court and the shade of 
the portico. Our kindly hosts had provided us with tea and 
boiled eggs and we sat down on piled-up cushions for luncheon. 
It did not take us long to realize that it was as well that we 
had brought some sandwiches with us, for we made the distress- 
ing discovery, egg after egg, that Tibetan tastes in this matter 
are a mean, but not a happy one, between those of Europe and 
of China. An egg absolutely black with age is not unpleasant 
to the taste, but these eggs which were only just beginning to 
qualify for a Chinese menu were something terrible, and we 
felt confused at having to seem unappreciative of the kindness 
of our friendly wizards. 

A crow had built its nest over the big blue board which sur- 
mounts the main door and craked apprehensively from time to 
time. The orange and blue swallows dipped and wheeled in 
the sun outside, and the just-seen tree tops beyond the cloister 

*This chunam floor is a fine banket of minute pebbles and cement which 
receives a high polish, and though it is nowhere here brought to such per- 
fection as at Agra or Delhi, it makes a very permanent and even handsome 
flooring and is much used in Tibet. 


^tooi helped to make snugger still the brilliant little home of 
meditation and of magic. Immediately beyond the trees the 
dull, unclad rock half inclosed this jewel of a temple, and the 
faint rustle of the little stream was hushed. We finished our 
meal and went down again into the courtyard between the two 
painted lions which guard the five steps. That on the dexter 
is blue, his sinister companion is green. Nothing seems to 
have escaped the brush gf the painter here. A tour of in- 
spection round the galleries of the cloisters revealed a little plate 
armor — which is a somewhat remarkable thing — and a large 
number of shao horns heavily whitewashed, in some cases tro- 
phied with dorje-handled swords. Then we were invited to 
look at the other rooms of the gompa, and we went up the usual 
slippery ladders to an upper portico as beautifully painted as 
every other part of the building, and so up again on to the top- 
most story protected by the great golden roof. 

This was the first golden Lhasan roof I had an opportunity 
of studying carefully. It is always claimed that one at least 
of the golden canopies of the Jo-kang is really made of plates 
of gold — and after a close examination I am half inclined to 
think that the central one is actually made throughout of the 
precious metal, extraordinary though it seems — but in general 
the gold is coated heavily upon sheets of copper, after the copper 
has been embossed or cast, or repousseed, as the fancy of the 
artist suggests. It is, I believe, laid on in an amalgam of mer- 
cury, but of this I could not get any very certain information. 
These golden roofs are unquestionably the most striking orna- 
ments of Lhasa. One can see them for miles, for, in this light 
clean air, no distance will dim the burning tongue of white flame 
that stabs like a heliograph from the upper line of a far misty 
outline of palace or temple, and there is no doubt that the last 
and greatest impression of Lhasa, still vivid when nearly all else 
has been forgotten with age, will be that of the first sight of 


"the Golden Roofs of Potala." All that that romantic phrase 
suggested beforehand was realized to the full, and just as to 
the opium-sodden imagination of De Quincey the words " Con- 
sul Romanus" summed up the grandeur of Rome, so perhaps 
these five words will longest recall to those who saw them the 
image of that ancient and mysterious faith which has found 
its last and fullest expression beneath the golden canopies of 

Returning to the ground, we passed again through the court- 
yard and out down the steps. Thence we turned up toward the 
trees which, from the upper slope, overhang Na-chung Chos- 
kyong. It was a pretty little spot, cool and sequestered, and 
if we had not been specially invited to do so, we should never 
have dreamed of going farther to where a few plain whitewashed 
walls seemed to indicate one of the monks' dormitories. Some- 
what uninterested, we allowed ourselves, however, to be taken 
forward by a monk, and after avoiding the teeth of a particu- 
larly large watchdog, we turned to the left into one of the pretti- 
est and best-protected little gardens I have ever seen. I leave it 
to botanists to explain how it is that we found here, 13,000 feet 
above the sea, a tall, flourishing hedge of bamboos, twenty-five 
feet high, shielding from the only exposed quarter the little 
garden and the little house of the Magician himself. Even from 
the little green shaded garden we could see clearly enough that 
this was no ordinary residence; a tiny stream of running water 
passed underneath the plain sloping walls of the wizard's abode, 
separating from its clean and well sun-blinded architecture the 
mallows and nasturtiums, the trailing roses and the potted stocks 
which might almost have been collected into that little space 
together to give the same twinge of memory to an English visi- 
tor that the whitened houses three hundred yards away must 
have conveyed to men of Italy. A large maple tree overhangs 
the entrance to the house. 


The interior of this little residence is of a dainty perfection 
that you could hardly match in Japan, and instinctively one felt 
that one should take off one's boots before treading on these ex- 
quisite inlaid wooden floors. Every part of the surface of the 
walls is covered with minute miniature-like frescoes ; the private 
chapel, though stripped of every ornament, remained a gem, and 
in the wizard's own private room the perforated screens of gilt 
and painted wood were marvels of intricate and delicate design. 
We remained here no long time, and soon after made our way 
back to Lhasa, well pleased indeed with our day's entertainment. 

I do not know whether I have been successful in conveying, 
in even one particular, the aspect of Lhasa in its plain. Perhaps 
it is impossible to do more than to set out a string of descriptive 
facts with all the fullness that is possible, and then let the reader 
reconstruct, with photographs and his imagination, what after 
all is more essential than anything else, the atmosphere which 
enshrouds the least interesting thing upon the Plain of Milk. 

Every traveler will know at once what I mean when I say 
that the character of the country is as distinct and peculiar to 
itself as is that of every other Eastern land, and that the very 
smell of incense and burning butter, f rowziness and never-washed 
humanity, which is inseparable from the smallest object inside 
a Tibetan temple, is as different from the clean perfume of Japan, 
or from the heavy, almost visibly dirty air and stinks of a Chi- 
nese temple, as both of these differ from the tawdry gorgeousness 
and cold make-believe of an Indian shrine. There is only one 
place that I know in the world which at all recalls the scent 
of Tibet, and that is the inner chambers of the underground 
temple in the fort of Allahabad, places which ladies are rarely 
invited to inspect. Here the undecaying Akshai Bar, sacred to 
Buddha under the name of Breguman, is probably the only 
center of Buddhist worship where there has been no break in 


the continuity of worship from the days of Huien Tsang, the 
Chinese traveler of the seventh century, to our own. I do not 
suppose that in this original identity of creed there is anything 
more than a coincidence— certainly the Hindus have no intention 
of honoring Gautama here— but in the dark underground cham- 
ber of this temple there is the taste of a gompa. There, and 
there alone, so far as I know, is that greasy warm stench of 
mingled sweetness and putridity which one comes very soon to 
associate with the very sound of the letters which spell Tibet. 

The Sen-de-gye-sum or Three Great Monasteries lie round 
Lhasa, north, west, and east. De-bung lies two and a half to 
three miles west-north-west; Sera is two miles due north, and 
Gaden is about twenty-two miles east as the crow flies, but is 
nearly thirty by road. There is a strong similarity between these 
three foundations; they are in every case built in closely con- 
nected tiers of white houses, rising one above another at the foot 
of a mountain spur. From a distance they look clean, prosper- 
ous, and not unpicturesque ; one ribald member of the Mission 
suggested that they looked like glorified Riviera hotels. The 
simile is not altogether unfair, though even the wildest dreams 
of M. Ritz can hardly include a caravansary for eight thousand 
guests. All three were founded by Tsong-kapa, who is re- 
ported, on almost worthless evidence, to have been born in 1357 
and to have died in 14 19. It seems clear, however, that these 
foundations date from the extreme end of the fourteenth century 
to the end of the first quarter of the fifteenth. The central gompa 
may in each case still be, or at least include, the original work 
of Tsong-kapa, but the endless series of whitewashed tenements 
built of mud which surround them in closely packed crowds 
must often have been replaced since his day. Few indeed are 
made of granite. De-bung is the senior monastery of the three 
in point of importance ; its name means the " rice heap," and it 
is spelled in the Tibetan language " abras-spungs." Here nearly 


8,000 monks occupy themselves daily in saying their offices, 
basking in the sun, and intriguing in political affairs. Dor- 
jieff, it will be remembered, was one of this body, and it was 
commonly reported to us in Lhasa that the influence of De-bung 
had for a long time been paramount in the Tsong-du. Luckily, 
perhaps, for others, the hostility between Sera and De-bung 
is very marked, and it is even asserted by some that the name 
Sera, which lies just out of sight of De-bung, round a pro- 
jecting spur of the northern hills, was chosen in order to sym- 
bolize the harm which " ser " hail does to rice heaps. But it 
seems likely that the original name was derived from " ser " 
gold. Sera ^ is the community in closest religious connection 
with the Dalai Lama, and it must be remembered that anything 
which belongs to his Holiness is never mentioned without the 
prefix " ser." If it were necessary to set on record the fact, 
the chronicler of great Potala would have to describe an opera- 
tion uncommon in Tibet, as the blowing of his Holiness' golden 
nose with his golden handkerchief, or more probably, if strict 
truth had to be maintained, with his golden fingers. Everything 
about him is golden in the eye of the Tibetan, his clothes, his 
food, his chair, his decrees, his prayers, all are golden, and it 
is more than likely that the derivation from hail was a happy 
thought of some quick-witted monk who wished to crystallize 
into a phrase the permanent hostility that exists between these 
two monasteries. 

The distinguishing characteristic of this monastery of De- 
bung lies in its supernatural and oracular attainments. Sera, 
on the other hand, is chiefly famous for its relics, and Gaden, 
which is far removed from the immediate strife and intrigues 
of Lhasa, retains its reputation for mere piety. At Sera is kept 
the original dorje of Buddha. I do not know that any European 
visitor, even Desideri, has ever been permitted to see the imple- 
* The traditional date of Sera is 1417. 


ment, but there is no doubt that its possession, or perhaps its re- 
puted possession, is a source of great superstitious strength to 
this community. Here there are 5,500 monks, and its nearness 
and visibility to Lhasa is no doubt a source of considerable 
strength. The internal jurisdiction of all these monasteries is 
not unlike that enjoyed by an Oxford college, though more 
serious offenses have to be submitted to the council of state. 
" The idols here," reports Nain Singh, " differ in size and hide- 
ousness, but the lower parts of the figures are generally those 
of men." The Abbe Hue allows himself some liberty of descrip- 
tion; he records the presence of hollies and cypresses and notes 
that the monastery buildings stand out upon the green base 
of the hill. It is necessary to record the fact that Sera is less 
wooded than any other part of the Lhasa plain, as it stands 
back against a rocky mountain clif¥ bare of all vegetation until 
a small shelf, 800 feet above the monastery, affords root hold 
for a plantation of hardy poplars only. Beside it, on the plain, 
are a few more trees of the same species, but the golden roof 
of Sera must still be counted its chief external attraction. The 
General pitched the camp of the escort about a mile away from 
this monastery, and the continual friendliness shown by the good 
monks of Sera may be attributable partly to this fact, but even 
more perhaps to the delight with which they saw their hated 
sister of De-bung compelled to disgorge many hundreds of 
thousands of pounds of flour and grain. 

Gaden is chiefly famous because it contains the tomb of Tsong- 
kapa himself. The following account of the monastery is taken 
from the Survey Reports of the Government of India by Sand- 

"It (the tomb of Tsong-kapa) is a lofty mausoleum-like 
structure of marble and malachite with a gilded roof ; inside this 
outer shell is to be seen a beautiful chorten shrine of cube, pyra- 


mid, and surmounting cone, all said to be of solid gold. Within 
this golden casket, wrapped in fine cloths, inscribed in sacred 
Dharani syllables, are the embalmed remains of the great re- 
former, disposed in a sitting attitude. Another notable object 
here is a magnificent representation of Champo, the Buddha to 
come, seated European fashion on a throne. Beside him stands 
a life-size image of Tsong-kapa in his character of Jan-pal 
Nin-po, which is supposed to be his name in the Gaden heavens. 
A rock-hewn wall with impress of hands and feet is also shown 
as Tsong-kapa's. A very old statue of Shinje, the lord of death, 
is much reverenced here, every visitor presenting gifts and doing 
it infinite obeisance. The floor of the large central chamber 
appears to be covered with brilliant enameled tiles, whilst another 
shrine holds an effigy of Tsong-kapa with images of his five 
disciples standing round him. The library contains manuscript 
copies of the saint's work in his own handwriting." 

The last regent of Tibet was Abbot of Gaden, a fact which 
did not save him from, and perhaps even accelerated, his assas- 

While we were making these investigations and using every 
moment of our time in the forbidden precincts, negotiations 
were faring but ill. The Tibetans were trying their usual tac- 
tics; they were only anxious to delay negotiations on every pos- 
sible excuse. It must be remembered that ever since the present 
Dalai Lama ousted, imprisoned and ultimately put to death 
the regent in whose hands the entire political control of Tibetan 
affairs had rested. His Holiness has ruled his ministers with 
a rod of iron. The state, in a sense far more exact than that in 
which Louis XIV used the phrase, was himself, and we found 
a terrified unwillingness on the part of any other official, however 
high his rank, to accept the responsibility of making any ar- 
rangement whatever. It may be suggested that the Tsong-du 


remained, and that it, as the power behind the throne, was quali- 
fied to carry on negotiations; but it must be remembered that 
the Tsong-du is essentially a deliberative, not an executive body ; 
it is as impossible to make a treaty with the Tsong-du as to make 
one with the House of Commons, and this disability was one 
which was readily perceived and turned to use by the Tibetans 
themselves. Secure by their anomalous composition and acepha- 
lous nature, the Tsong-du, which now sat in continual session 
from morning to night, only rendered the action of the remain- 
ing dignitaries of Lhasa the more difficult. The Dalai Lama, 
whose presence in Lhasa would have simplified matters for us 
exceedingly, had gone away, ostensibly on a pilgrimage con- 
nected with the religious meditation in which he had now been 
immersed since the first mention of the approach of an English 
Mission. It is true that, as we have seen, his seclusion was 
one which His Holiness was ready to suspend at any moment 
at which he thought that he could deliver an effective stroke in 
the political arena, but in the eyes of Tibetans it perhaps justi- 
fied his flight from his capital— an act of prudence which 
strangely resembled Mr. Kruger's in 1900. It may be that, as 
in this other case of a people bigotedly superstitious, sensitive 
to foreign intrusion in any form, and in their origin formed by 
a distinctly religious exodus, the head of the state may have felt 
that his absence, by interposing even a few months' delay, al- 
lowed time for the operations of Providence. More probably 
the flight of the Dalai Lama was also commended to him by 
the fact that in the future he would be able, at his leisure, to deal 
with the situation which had been created in his absence. That 
the Chinese would ever actively interfere must have been the 
last thing he expected, and knowing the climate of his country 
well, he must have realized a cogent reason for our early with- 

Perhaps he builded better than he knew, but the coping-stone 


has still to be set upon his policy; we do not even now, in Janu- 
ary, 1905, know the real results in Lhasa itself of the expedition, 
and, though the matter will be touched upon in greater detail 
hereafter, it may be said that upon the action of this unknown 
factor in Central Asian politics the future almost entirely de- 
pends. When he fled from Lhasa he left the great seal in the 
charge of the Tipa (or Ti) Rimpoche, but, as the latter plain- 
tively remarked, he had been given no specific authority to use it. 
Immediately before our arrival in Lhasa we made the impor- 
tant discovery that the 1890-93 Convention, which was de- 
nounced by the Dalai Lama as having been made without the 
co-operation or consent of Tibet, had, as a matter of fact, been 
duly discussed and formally approved by the Tsong-du in special 
session, and this information did not suggest any considerable 
trustworthiness in any promises the Tibetans might now make. 
I remember writing to the Times a letter dealing with the po- 
litical situation in which optimism struggled with a recognition 
of the obvious disadvantages under which the Commissioner la- 
bored; on the following day, the 12th of August, the disheart- 
ening news arrived that the Tsong-du had actually drafted a 
letter in answer to our demands of an impertinent and almost 
defiant nature. The communication was not sent directly to us. 
The Amban, to whom it had been intrusted, consulted Mr. 
Wilton privately before officially sending it on. Mr. Wilton's 
advice was that, unless the Tibetans were looking out for serious 
trouble, the letter had better be withdrawn at once. This was 
done, but it was impossible to avoid the conclusion that the 
Amban himself would have been perfectly willing to deliver 
the letter unless some such vigorous protest had been made. 
It was, in fact, a ballon d'essai to which he should not have 
lent the sanction of his position. How far throughout the nego- 
tiations Yu-tai was playing a double game no one at present 
knows, but this first suggestion of his double dealing was after- 


ward unfairly remembered in London when the news that he had 
ultimately refused to sign the treaty was telegraphed home. 
He had no authority to sign without the consent of the Wai- 
wu-pu. To us he presented a never-failing front of sympathy 
and apparent good-feeling, he never made a speech or wrote a 
letter without referring to the pig-headed stupidity of the people 
intrusted to his care, he was enthusiastic in his praise of Colonel 
Younghusband's moderation in all respects, and to judge from 
his words one might have thought that by our advance a minia- 
ture millennium had been inaugurated for the down-trodden 
people of Tibet. That there was some ground for these state- 
ments is suggested by the complaint of the Dalai Lama himself 
that by honest and even excessive payment throughout our march 
we had seduced the affections of his people. 

There can be no doubt of our popularity with the laity. The 
market outside the town, which was formed in spite of the pub- 
licly expressed disapproval of the Council, was from the first 
crowded by hundreds of eager sellers, and it could have been small 
satisfaction to the monks looking out from the high walls of Po- 
tala to see the densely crowded acre of chaffering peddlers and 
careless or generous purchasers which daily took up a position on 
some convenient dry patch just outside the camp limits. In this 
market articles of food naturally predominated; meat and flour 
were supplied from the De-bung store cellars, so that condiments 
and other luxuries formed the staple commodities. It was an odd 
scene. By eight o'clock in the morning a roaring trade was being 
done in curry powder, turnips, walnuts— they would have been 
dear in Piccadilly— sugar in yellow and white balls, cigarettes— 
of the ubiquitous Pedro brand— apples, small russets with a tart 
flavor, sealing-wax— one of the best products of Lhasa, good 
transparent brown stuff, of which I secured a large store, chu- 
pattis, acid green peaches, native candles— looking like short, 
squat fireworks, and molded upon a piece of bamboo— lengths of 


cloth done up in soundly sewn wrappings, cabbages, red pots full 
of curds, Tibetan shoes, celery, and condensed milk in tins, car- 
rots, onions, eggs in thousands, and milk in big unglazed red 
ware. It was pleasant to watch the big Sikhs and Pathans cheer- 
ily haggling for some coveted sugar plum, sitting down on their 
heels for half-an-hour to cheapen it an anna, and then, after they 
had made their bargain, looking in a bewildered way at the little 
irregularly shaped scraps of silver which a voluble young Tibe- 
taness had given them in change. For in Lhasa a " tanka " has 
a hole gouged in the middle, has its corners filed off, and is then 
cut across the middle without ceasing to be legal tender. 

The official rate of exchange was three tankas to a rupee, but 
this, though inevitable for reasons of convenience, represented an 
enormous profit to the Tibetans, for the intrinsic value of a tanka 
is about four and a fifth pennies. The first principles of the the- 
ory of exchange were grasped at once by the inhabitants, who 
would go up and down the bazaar holding out tankas in threes 
and badgering every one they met for a Queen's headed rupee ^ 
in exchange, with the pertinacity and importunity of a stall 
holder at a fashionable bazaar. By noon the bazaar dwindled 
away, and after tiffin there was really no one left on the ground. 

To return to the political situation. The assistance and the 
power of Russia were no longer believed in, and, on the other 
hand, the capability of the Indian Government to reach Lhasa 
whenever they might wish to do so had been demonstrated beyond 
dispute. Other things had no less weight in our favor; the re- 
sistance of the Tibetans had been blown away before us like leaves 
in autumn, and there was not a man in the country who did not 
realize that our care of their wounded afterward was as thorough 
as the punishment we inflicted at the moment. Trade and credit 

*The new rupee with the King's head was looked upon at first with sus- 
picion. The old one is called the "Lama" rupee, from a belief that the 
Queen's veiled head represents a famous teacher. 


are proverbially plants of slow growth, and slower in the East 
than anywhere else. We may not see much result for years, but 
the leaven of respect for our strength and confidence in our hon- 
esty may safely be allowed in Tibet to work upward from the bot- 
tom to the top. 

In purely political matters, one name separates itself from that 
of the common crowd, and it was a name we had not heard before 
we reached the capital. There is in Lhasa a young monk who 
apparently to some extent organizes the action of the Tsong-du. 
The " Loseling Kempo " is a man upon whom the eye of the In- 
dian Government may well be kept. He is strong enough not to 
desire outward recognition of his strength, and working, as he 
does, through the Tsong-du, the double intangibility enjoyed by 
string-pullers and corporations alike makes it ten times more diffi- 
cult for us to lay our fingers upon this ultimate arbiter whose in- 
fluence seems likely at no distant date to exceed that of the Dalai 
Lama himself. That he is actively opposed to us I do not exactly 
know; he probably represents the sullen and bitter resentment 
against our intrusion which naturally enough is felt by the official 
priestly caste, but when the Tibetans have had time quietly to re- 
view the whole situation it may be found, even by the Lamaic 
hierarchy itself, that we have been no enemies to their indepen- 
dence and self-respect, and at that moment, if the good offices of 
the Loseling Kempo can be unostentatiously secured, our future 
relations with this hermit kingdom may be facilitated in a manner 
that ten treaties might fail to achieve. 

Meanwhile, in spite of the successful signing of the treaty and 
in spite of his exile and formal deposition by the Chinese, the 
dominating factor in the situation is beyond question the Illus- 
trious and Most Holy Dalai Lama, Ngak-wang-lo-zang-tub-dan- 
gya-tso. Defender and Protector of the Buddhist faith. 



FOR many days the Mission waited for the Tibetans to ar- 
range their internal affairs and come to the work of nego- 
tiation. The first camp near Norbu-ling was abandoned by the 
expeditionary force, and the Mission, with a guard of one bat- 
talion of Pathans, moved across the swampy plain to Lha-lu, 
which, as we have seen, had been put at the disposal of Colonel 
Younghusband by the four Councilors. Formal visits were again 
and again paid within the precincts of Lhasa ; the country round 
was visited and surveyed with care, one party going as far as the 
plain beyond the Pembu la to the north-east. They reported the 
existence of a plain even more luxuriant in vegetation than that of 
Lhasa, but it was admitted by the Tibetans that this was nearly 
the last of their really fertile tracts of land in a northerly direc- 
tion. General Macdonald moved the remainder of the force to a 
comparatively dry patch on the plain about a mile nor'-nor'-east 
of the Potala, and except for the commissariat officers, whose 
work on an expedition is never done, there was a quiet time for 
the men composing the Commissioner's escort. For many of the 
officers, too, there was not very much to do during the day ; fish- 
ing was the favorite occupation, and an unexpected number of 
hooks and lines was discovered in the force. Fly-fishing was 
soon abandoned for minnows and spoons. Some of the natives 
obtained excellent sport with tsamba paste. Major Iggulden was 
beyond question the most successful angler of the expedition, and 
from time to time he reported catches of over 60 and 70 as the 























result of a short afternoon's sport. A race meeting was organ- 
ized, and the entries comprised almost every beast of private (and 
a large number of those of public) ownership in the lines. The 
view of Lhasa from Lha-lu house is merely that of Chagpo-ri 
and the back view of the Potala, as the high sand embankments of 
the Kaling chu * effectually prevent any sight of the city itself 
from the level of the plain. This is a curious thing, and enters 
considerably into one's conception of the place. The two hills 
to the west entirely shut off a view of the town as one comes in 
from De-bung, and looking from Sera on the north, these high, 
white sand-banks diverging across the plain still conceal the 
greenery and gold of the city. Only the Potala stands up majestic 
and defiant. 

Ma Shao yiin, in his Tibetan itinerary, refers with admiration 
to the " gorgeous green and dazzling yellow colors which at Po- 
tala fascinate the eye." Ta Ching-i-tung chih— who asserts that 
the height above ground of the golden finials is 436 feet 10 inches 
— describes it with greater fidelity to nature as a " wondrous peak 
of green with its halls perched on the summit, resplendent with 
vermilion and combining natural beauty with architectural 
charm." It is a pity that this magnificent building should have 
proved to be so disappointing inside. We discovered that the 
outside of the Potala and the inside of the Jo-kang are by far the 
most interesting things in Lhasa. But it is curious, also, that 
while the interior of the Potala is indistinguishable from the in- 
teriors of a score of other large Tibetan lamaseries, the Jo-kang 
has actually no outside at all. To this latter building I shall re- 
turn later. There are passages and halls by miles and scores. 
Here and there in a chapel burns a grimy butter lamp before a 
tarnished and dirty image. Here and there the passage widens as 

' From a note in the Wei Tsang t'u chih by Ma Shao yiin I am inclined to 
think that these embankments bury the granite blocks which before the days 
of Karpi formed the city walls of Lhasa. 


a flight of stairs breaks the monotony of grimy walls. The sleep- 
ing cells of the monks are cold, bare, and dirty. The actual room 
in which the Treaty was signed was of fair size— six hundred 
were easily accommodated in it— and hangings and screens made 
a brave show for the moment, but for the rest, the Potala is a 
never-ending labyrinth of corridors and courts and walls as un- 
kempt as those of the Palkhor choide, Jang-kor-yang-tse, or Ta- 
ka-re. Some of the audience halls are magnificent and well 
painted, but there is nothing, with one exception, which calls for 
any particular note from one end of the huge building to the other, 
so far, at least, as any member of the expedition discovered. For 
the credit of the Dalai Lama it is to be hoped that the chief orna- 
ments had been removed or buried. Mr. Claude White and Mr. 
Wilton, who made the examination of the palace their special 
care, investigated a very large number of the rooms of the Potala, 
but eventually retreated in disappointment from a task which 
seemed to possess neither interest nor end. The gilded tombs of 
a few previous incarnations form the exception to which I have 
referred, but even these seemed inadequate and out of proportion 
to the gigantic casket in which they lie. It must be confessed, 
though the words are written with considerable reluctance, that 
cheap and tawdry are the only possible adjectives which can be 
applied to the interior decoration of this great palace temple. 
Part of it is fine in design, most of it commonplace, all of it dirty. 
Madame de Chatelain would have smiled to see the disappoint- 
ment of the Mission, for — though there are no lovely women in 
Lhasa who play the fiddle, and one doubts whether much en- 
chantment would follow if they did — the effect produced by the 
first sight of this imposing palace, splendid as the figment of the 
wildest dream, was as overwhelming and attractive as that which 
Gilbert saw, and our disillusionment was afterward as great as 

The first palace on this spot was built by Srong-tsan-gambo, 






but destroyed by the Chinese after a brief existence in 670. It 
was known as Yumbu Lagang. Different buildings were subse- 
quently erected without regard to any consistent scheme. I con- 
fess that I find it difficult to reconcile the present pile with the de- 
scription or sketch by Grueber. This traveler was in Lhasa in 
1 66 1, nineteen years after the reputed completion of the present 
building, but his picture of it is utterly unlike the reality. There 
must have been enormous additions in the eighteenth century, and 
even later, for Manning's note as to the lack of balance and plan 
in its architecture is surely unjust. 

The zigzag stairs, protected by echelon balustrades, lead down- 
ward into the great square court at the foot of the Marpo-ri, 
guarded by seven square bastion-like guard-houses, used as pris- 
ons. The rest of the court is used for the accommodation of a 
few soldiers and a great many beasts of burden; outside it is a 
squalid little hamlet. 

Of the Dalai Lama himself of course we saw nothing. The 
following description of a reception by the Grand Lama within 
the Potala palace is taken from the pages of Chandra Das' jour- 
nal, but it is, I think, only right to point out that in the opinion 
of many well qualified to judge, to some extent, at least, the 
writer may have been dependent upon the information of others. 

" Arriving at the eastern gateway of Potala, we dismounted 
and walked through a long hall, on either side of which were rows 
of prayer wheels, which every passer-by put in motion. Then, 
ascending three long flights of stone steps, we left our ponies in 
care of a bystander— for no one may ride further— and proceeded 
toward the palace under the guidance of a young monk. We had 
to climb up five ladders before we reached the ground floor of 
Phodang-marpo, or ' the Red palace,' thus called from the ex- 
terior walls being of a dark-red color. Then we had half-a-dozen 
more ladders to climb up, and we found ourselves at the top of . 


Potala (there are nine stories to this building), where we saw a 
number of monks awaiting an audience. The view from here was 
beautiful beyond compare; the broad valley of the Kyi chu, in the 
center of which stands the great city surrounded by green groves ; 
the gilt spires of the Jo-kang and the other temples of Lhasa, and 
farther away the great monasteries of Sera and. De-bung,* behind 
which rose the dark-blue mountains. 

" After a while three lamas appeared, and said that the Dalai 
Lama would presently conduct a memorial service for the bene- 
fit of the late Meru Ta Lama (Great Lama of Meru gomba), 
and that we were allowed to be present at it. Walking very 
softly, we came to the middle of the reception hall, the roof of 
which is supported by three rows of pillars, four in each row, 
and where light is admitted by a skylight. The furniture was 
that generally seen in lamaseries, but the hangings were of the 
richest brocades and cloths of gold; the church utensils were 
of gold, and the frescoing on the walls of exquisite fineness. 
Behind the throne were beautiful tapestries and satin hangings 
forming a great gyal-tsan, or canopy. The floor was beautifully 
smooth and glossy, but the doors and windows, which were 
painted red, were of the rough description common throughout 
the country. 

" A Donyer approached, who took our presentation khatag, 
but I held back, at the suggestion of Chola Kusho, the present 
I had for the Grand Lama ; and when I approached him I placed 
in his lap, much to the surprise of all present, a piece of gold 
weighing a tola. We then took our seats on rugs, of which 
there were eight rows ; ours were in the third, and about ten feet 
from the Grand Lama's throne, and a little to his left. 

" The Grand Lama is a child of eight, with a bright and fair 
complexion and rosy cheeks. His eyes are large and penetrat- 
ing, the shape of his face remarkably Aryan, though somewhat 
*As a matter of fact. De-bung cannot be seen from the Potala. 


One of the wonders of the world 


marred by the obliquity of his eyes. The thinness of his person 
was probably due to the fatigue of the Court ceremonies and to 
the religious duties and ascetic observances of his estate. A yel- 
low mantle draped his person, and he sat cross-legged with joined 
palms. The throne on which he sat was supported by carved lions, 
and covered with silk scarfs. It was about four feet high, six 
feet long, and four feet broad. The State officers moved about 
with becoming gravity; there was the Kuchar Khanpo, with a 
bowl of holy water, colored yellow with saffron ; the Censer-car- 
rier, with a golden censer with three chains; the Solpon chenpo, 
with a golden tea-pot; and other household officials. Two gold 
lamps, made in the shape of flower vases, burned on either side 
of the throne. 

" When all had been blessed and taken seats, the Solpon chenpo 
poured tea in his Holiness's golden cup, and four assistants 
served the people present. Then grace was said, beginning with 
Om, Ah, Hum, thrice repeated, and followed by, * Never losing 
sight even for a moment of the Three Holies, making reverence 
even to the Three Precious Ones. Let the blessing of the Three 
Konchog be upon us,' etc. Then we silently raised our cups and 
drank the tea, which was most deliciously perfumed. In this 
manner we drank three cupfuls, and then put our bowls back 
in the bosoms of our gowns. 

" After this the Solpon chenpo put a golden dish full of rice 
before the Dalai Lama, and he touched it, and then it was divided 
among those present; then grace was again said, and his Holi- 
ness, in a low, indistinct tone, chanted a hymn, which was re- 
peated by the assembled lamas in deep grave tones. When this 
was over, a venerable man rose from the first row of seats and 
made a short address, reciting the many acts of mercy the Dalai 
Lamas had vouchsafed Tibet, at the conclusion of which he 
presented to his Holiness a number of valuable things; then he 
made three prostrations and withdrew, followed by all of us. 


" As I was leaving, one of the Donyer chenpo's (or chamber- 
lain) assistants gave me two packets of blessed pills, and another 
tied a scrap of red silk round my neck — these are the usual re- 
turn presents the Grand Lama makes to pilgrims." 

This is probably the best extant description • of a reception 
at the Potala, and for that reason I have inserted it. It will 
probably be many years before a white man has the chance of 
verifying even an incident described in it. Hue, the last Euro- 
pean before ourselves to see it, gives an extraordinary descrip- 
tion of the palace. It is so strangely beside the truth that one 
is obliged to wonder what pains he took to verify other state- 
ments he made in his book of travels. Here it is : 

" Le palais du Tale Lama merite a tous egards la celebrite dont 
il jouit dans le monde entier. Vers la partie septentrionale de la 
ville et tout au plus a un quart d'heure de distance, il existe une 
montagne rocheuse, peu elevee, et de forme conique. Elle 
s'eleve au milieu de cette large vallee, comme un ilot isole au- 
dessus d'un immense lac. 

" Cette montagne porte le nom de Bouddha-La, c'est-a-dire 
montagne de Bouddha, montagne divine; c'est sur ce socle gran- 
diose, prepare par la nature, que les adorateurs du Tale Lama ont 
edifie un palais magnifique ou reside en chair et en os leur divi- 
nite vivante. 

" Ce palais est un reunion de plusieurs temples, de grandeur et 
de beaute differentes; celui qui occupe le centre est eleve de 
quatre etages, et domine tous les autres; il est termine par un 
dome entierement reconvert de lames d'or, et entoure d'un grand 
peristyle dont les colonnes sont egalement dorees." 

Such a description as this is puzzling. Nothing is more char- 
acteristic and striking at the Potala than the long, almost un- 

















broken front of granite wall, reaching almost from one end to 
the other of the hill-crest, supporting a homogeneous and closely 
welded series of buildings. The truth is that very little used to 
be accurately noted by Asian travelers before the middle of the 
last century. It is not unlikely that the possibility of having 
the lie direct given to a verbal description by a later visitor's 
camera may have helped to bring this about. 

Of the other great features of Lhasa, the Jo-kang and the 
Do-ring remain pre-eminent. The latter, as was said at the be- 
ginning of this book, is the oldest existing document in Tibetan 
history; it records a treaty made in 783 between King Ral-pa- 
chan of Tibet and his neighbor, and late enemy, the Chinese 
Emperor. It is a well quarried slab of granite, about six inches 
in thickness and eight feet in height, set in a granite frame. 
It immediately fronts the entrance to the Cathedral, from which 
it is distant only thirty paces across the yard. Immediately over 
it is the great willow tree which springs from a hair of Buddha 
buried among its roots— a splendid tree, and one which, perhaps, 
has been able to grow to greater perfection from the protection 
of the wall built round its diverging trunk. This inclosure fills 
the western side of the little courtyard opposite the west door of 
the Cathedral. Between it and the projecting wings of the 
Government offices, which here, as elsewhere, crowd all round 
upon the walls of the Jo-kang, there is a space on either side, 
and the Do-ring stands in the direct line between them. The 
design of the pediment surmounting the stone is strong and 
undoubtedly of the original date of the monument. It represents 
two dragons, simply designed in somewhat deep relief, of which 
the edges have been severely treated by the weather of many 
centuries. Whether the stone itself is or is not the original 
granite slab is a matter somewhat more difficult to decide. At. 
first I was convinced that it must have been renewed once at 
least. This appeared to me to be probable for more than one 


reason; the first was the clean-cut surface of the stone where 
the quarry-man had originally " flatted " it for the inscription, 
combined with the recent appearance of the lettering, so far as 
it can now be seen; and, secondly, the rapidity with which the 
Tibetans have ground into it the cup-marks with which the 
whole Chinese or eastern face of the stone is now disfigured. 
Some twenty years ago the writing was, we are assured by Chan- 
dra Das, still distinctly legible; the merest glance at it shows 
how far this is from being the case to-day. If all this damage 
has been done in so short a time, it seems impossible this can be 
the original stone, for the process of cup-marking is one of the 
oldest in the world, and at this rate would long ago have de- 
stroyed the surface of the slab over and over again. 

On the other hand, it must be confessed that the inaccuracy 
of Chandra Das in many places in his book is notorious; if 
in his time the inscription was totally illegible, if, in fact, as 
seems more likely, these cup-marks are really the products of 
half -centuries instead of years, there is no reason, Mr. Hayden 
tells me, why the granite slab with its inscription, although ex- 
posed to the weather of a thousand years and more, should not 
be the original. He said that the friable appearance of the 
granite hill slopes we had passed on the way up was deceptive, 
and that a new piece cut from the living rock was of an ex- 
ceedingly hard and good character. The western face of the 
Do-ring, which is turned inward toward the willow, is free from 
cup-marks, but it is covered with a blackish, mildewed growth 
which conceals the inscription to a great extent. This is a gritty 
crust which can be partially removed by the finger-nail, but it 
seems to have affected the surface of the stone deeply, and this 
side is scarcely more legible than the other. 

This inscription, taken from a translation in the Asiatic So- 
ciety's journal of the copy still kept as a record in the Amban's 
Residency, is as follows: 


" The learned, warlike, filial and virtuous Emperor of the 
Great Tang, and the divine and all-wise Tsanpu of the Great 
Fan, two sovereigns allied as father and son-in-law, having 
consulted to unite the gods of the land and grain, have concluded 
a sworn treaty of grand alliance, which shall never be lost nor 
changed. Gods and men have been called as witnesses, and in 
order that all ages and generations may resound in praise the 
sworn text, section by section, has been engraved on a stone 

" The learned, warlike, filial and virtuous Emperor, and the 
divine and all-wise Tsanpu, Te-chih-li-tsan, their all-wise ma- 
jesties, with intuitive wisdom reaching far, and knowing both 
present and future, good and evil, with feelings of benevolent 
pity and imperial grace overspreading all, without distinction 
of native and foreign, have negotiated an alliance, and resolved 
to give to the myriad families peace and prosperity, and with 
like thought have completed a long, lasting and good deed. They 
have re-connected the bonds of affectionate kinship, strength- 
ened anew the right policy of neighbourly friendship, and made 
this great peace. 

" The two countries Fan and Han keeping the lands and 
boundaries which they now rule: all to the east shall be within 
the borders of the great Tang, all to the west shall be the terri- 
tory of the great Fan. Neither the one nor the other shall 
slaughter or fight ; they shall not move weapons or armour, nor 
shall they plot to encroach on each other's territory. Should 
any men be liable to suspicion, they shall be taken alive and their 
business enquired into, after which they shall be given clothes 
and food and sent back to their own country. 

" Now the gods of the land and of grain have been united to 
make this great peace, yet to keep up the good relationship of 
the father and son-in-law there must be constant communication. 
The one shall rely on the other, and constantly send envoys to 


and fro. Both Fan and Han shall change horses at the Chiang- 
chun Pass, and to the east of the Suiyung Barrier the great 
Tang shall provide for the mission, while to the west of the 
City of Chingshui the great Fan shall entertain them. They 
shall both be treated with due ceremony, according to the near 
relationship of the Imperial father and son-in-law, so that within 
the two borders neither smoke nor dust shall rise, no word of 
invasion or plunder shall be heard, and there shall be no longer 
anxious fear and trembling. The frontier guards shall be dis- 
missed, and the land shall have perfect quiet in consequence of 
this joyful event. Their grace shall be handed down to ten 
thousand generations, and sounds of grateful praise shall extend 
to wherever the sun and the moon shine. The Fan shall be at 
peace in the Fan country; the Han also shall be joyful in 
the Han country, and this is truly a great deed of good augury. 
They shall keep their sworn oath, and there shall never be any 

" They have looked up to the three Precious ones, to all the 
holy saints, to the sun, moon, stars and planets, and begged them 
to be their witnesses. A sworn treaty like this each one has seve- 
rally written and exposed, having sacrificed the victims for the 
sworn ceremony and ratified this text. Should they not keep 
these oaths, and either Fan or Han disregard the treaty and 
break the sworn agreement, may there come to him misfortune 
and calamity. Provided only that the work of rebels against 
the state, or secret plotters, shall not be included as a breach of 
the sworn ceremony. 

" The Fan and Han sovereigns and ministers have all bowed 
down and solemnly made oath and carefully drawn up the writ- 
ten documents. The witnesses of the two sovereigns, the officers 
who ascended to the altar, have reverently written their names 
below, and the sworn treaty, of which this is a true copy, has 
been deposited in the royal treasury." 


As to other misconceptions, it may be said at once that there 
are no " old willows whose aged trunks are bent and twisted 
like writhing dragons on either side," nor can the monument, 
from any point of view, be called a pillar. There is no flag- 
pole in this courtyard at all. The Jo itself is not anywhere near 
the propylon. 

The Do-ring witnessed one of the famous assassinations of 
the world. King Lang-darma, who reigned at the close of the 
ninth century, was the Julian of Lamaism. With a ruthless hand 
he attempted to extirpate Buddhism and restore the earlier and 
simpler devil worship of the country. A monk, disguised as 
a Shamanist or Black Hat devil dancer, approached Lang-darma 
as he was halting outside the western entrance of the Jo-kang 
one day in the year 900. Gamboling and capering, now ad- 
vancing, now withdrawing, he eventually approached the mon- 
arch, whose attention he had gained probably by his disguise, 
near enough to inflict one terrific blow which smashed in Lang- 
darma's forehead. The apostate fell dead where he stood. This 
audacious act, which laid the foundation of Lamaic supremacy, 
is annually recorded by a mystery play, on the spot of Lang- 
darma's assassination. But in the description of it, vividly 
written in his book on Lamaism, Colonel Waddell suggests 
that neither in its origin nor in its realistic details is the play 
based upon the facts we have mentioned. It has been slightly 
adapted so as to record the crime, but as a matter of origin 
it is of a far greater antiquity. 

There remains yet to be described the sacred heart and center, 
not of Lhasa alone, but of Central Asia, and I have been asked 
to reprint as it stands the description of the Jo-kang which ap- 
peared in the Times of the 24th of September. Though some- 
what doubtful I have therefore, writing months afterward, not 
cared to make alterations, even when some inducement, such as 


an added detail or the better turn of a sentence, might increase 
the literary value of the description. Such additions as are 
necessary I have added as distinct interpolations. There is to 
me an intense pleasure in looking back over the pages of my note- 
book to see the scrawled sketches and illegibly jotted notes which 
I was careful to make during an experience which, for sheer 
interest, I suppose will rarely, if ever, be repeated. I almost 
think, if I may say so in no spirit of boasting, that perhaps no 
traveler will ever have the chance exactly to feel as much again, 
however far his travels, however dangerous his pilgrimage. 
Unexpectedly there rose up, through no deliberate effort of my 
own, an opportunity of seeing that, without which a visit to 
Lhasa would have been after all but a half-achieved success, 
without which there would have been left still the crown and 
key-stone of all the edifice of Buddhism for another and a later 
traveler to see for the first time. Three of us were to be the first 
white men to look upon the great golden idol of Lhasa. 

" It is not always realized that it is in the Cathedral of Lhasa, 
not in the palace outside, that the spiritual life of Tibet and of 
the countless millions of Northern Buddhism is wholly centred. 
The policy of isolation which has for so long been the chief 
characteristic of the faith finds its fullest expression in the fa- 
natical jealousy with which this temple, the heart and focus 
of Lamaism, has been safeguarded against the stranger's intru- 
sion. What Tibet is to the rest of the world, what Lhasa is to 
Tibet, that the Jo-kang is to Lhasa, and it is not entirely clear, 
in spite of more than one so-called description of the interior, 
that any European, or even native spy, has ever before ventured 
inside. There has, perhaps, been reason enough for this. It 
is possible that pardon for having visited the city of Lhasa, 
or the Potala Palace — which is in comparison almost a place of 
resort— might have been obtained on terms, but there could 



Within is the most sacred shrine in Lhasa 


hardly have been a reprieve for the luckless intruder once dis- 
covered inside these darkened and windowless quadrangles. 
Certainly neither the ground plan published by Giorgi in the 
1 8th century nor any of the detailed accounts published more 
recently suggested that their authors had any first-hand ac- 
quaintance with the place. 

" As I have noticed in a former letter, the exterior is devoid 
of either beauty or dignity. The interior, on the other hand, 
is unquestionably the most important and interesting thing in 
Central Asia. It is the treasure-house and kaabah, not of the 
country only, but of the faith, and it is curious that, while the 
magnificent Potala is a casket containing nothing either ancient 
or specially venerated, the priceless gems of the Jo-kang should 
be housed in a building which literally has no outside walls at 
all. All round the Cathedral the dirty and insignificant council 
chambers and offices, in which the affairs of Tibet are debated 
and administered, lean like parasites against it for support, hud- 
dled together and obscuring the sacred structure, to which they 
owe their stability, in a way that seems mischievously significant 
of the whole state of Tibet. 

" From Chagpori the five great gilded roofs are indeed to be 
seen blazing in the sun through the tree-tops hard by the Yutok 
Bridge, but even this suggestion of importance vanishes as 
one treads a way through the filth of the narrow streets to the 
western entrance. So crowded upon is the Jo-kang that this 
is actually the only part of the structure which is visible from the 
street which surrounds it. 

" It is not strangers only against whom the great doors of the 
Jo-kang have been barred. Exclusion from its sacred precincts 
is officially pronounced against those also who have incurred the 
suspicion, or displeasure, of the ruling hierarchy of Lhasa, and 
it is a curious proof of the autocratic power which is exercised 
with regard to this Cathedral, as well as of the insignificance 


of the suzerainty, that on August ii, in this year, the Viceroy 
himself, going in state to the Jo-kang to offer prayer on the 
occasion of the Chinese Emperor's birthday, had the doors shut 
in his face. To this insult the opportunity I have enjoyed of 
examining the temple with a fulness that would otherwise have 
been impossible was due. Anxious to retaliate, the Amban — 
who was on a subsequent day grudgingly permitted to visit the 
ground floor only of the building — used our presence in Lhasa 
to teach the keepers of the Cathedral a lesson in manners. At 
any rate, to our surprise, a definite invitation was one day ex- 
tended to one or two of the members of the Mission to make 
a morning visit into Lhasa for the purpose of examining the 
treasures of the innermost sanctuary of Buddhism. It was ac- 
cepted. A Chinese guard of the Residency, armed with tridents, 
halberds, and scythe-headed lances, provided our escort, and im- 
mediately upon our arrival the great doors, half hidden in the 
shadow under the many-pillared propylon, were opened and at 
once barred again behind us. 

" Just in front, seen through a forest of pillars, was an open 
and verandahed court-yard. Its great age was at once apparent. 
The paintings on the walls were barely distinguishable through 
a heavy cloak of dirt and grease, and it was difficult to imagine 
the colours with which the capitals of the pillars, and the raftered 
roof overhead, had originally been painted. The court is open 
to the sky and is surrounded by none of the small chapels which 
are the chief feature of the inner quadrangles of the Jo-kang. 
The architecture is of the kind invariable in religious buildings 
in Tibet— a double row of pillars carry the half-roof overhead, 
each supporting on a small capital a large bracketed abacus, 
voluted and curved on both sides and charged in the centre with 
a panel of archaic carving. The wooden doors which secure 
both entrances of the first court are of immense size, heavily 
barred, and embossed with filigree ring plates of great age. 














"At the opposite end of the court an open door communi- 
cates with the second court, revealing a bright mass of holly- 
hocks, snapdragon, and stocks, vivid in the sun. The sanctity 
of the temple obviously increased as we ventured into the inner 
court. Its sides are honeycombed by small dark chambers, ap- 
parently built in the thickness of the enormous wall. Each is 
an idol-crowned sanctuary. Into these obscure shrines one stum- 
bles, bent almost double to avoid the dirt of the low greasy 
lintel. Once inside, the eye requires some time to distinguish 
anything more than the dim outlines of an altar in the middle 
of the chamber. On it stand one or two copper or brass bowls 
filled high with butter, each bearing on its half-congealed surface 
a dimly burning wick in a little pool of self-thawed oil. These 
dim beads of yellow light provide all the illumination of the cave, 
and after a little, one can just distinguish the solemn images 
squatting round the walls, betrayed by points and rims of light, 
reflected here and there from the projections and edges of golden 
draperies or features. The smell is abominable. The air is ex- 
hausted and charged with rancid vapours. Everything one 
touches drips with grease. The fumes of burning butter have 
in the course of many generations filmed over the surfaces and 
clogged the carving of doors and walls alike. The floor under- 
foot is slippery as glass. Upon this receptive foundation, the 
grime and reek of centuries have steadily descended with results 
that may be imagined. Except that the images themselves ap- 
parently receive from time to time a perfunctory wipe with the 
greasy rag which is generally to be found in a conspicuous place 
beside a Tibetan altar, there is not in one of these numerous 
chapels the slightest sign of consideration, respect, or care. 

" One comes out again into the open air with relief, only to 
find, three or four yards on, the entrance to another of these cata- 
comb-like chapels. They entirely surround the walls of this 
interior court, and to the eye of the stranger hardly differ one 


from another. Indeed, the monks themselves when questioned 
seem to find some difficulty in distinguishing the identity of the 
images in the successive chapels. In front of some of these re- 
cesses hangs a curtain of a curious kind, peculiar, so far as I 
know, to this temple. Horses' bits, of steel and of a plain pat- 
tern, are linked together ring to ring by short lengths of twisted 
iron, the whole forming an original and effective screen. This 
is secured to the left-hand jamb by a long bolt and staple, and 
the whole is fastened by one of the gigantic locks which are 
adopted from China, and are perhaps the most ingenious product 
of the country. 

" The centre of the court is taken up by an inner sanctuary 
formed on three sides by low shelves, covered with small brass 
Buddhas backed by larger images arranged between the pillars 
supporting the roof of the half-roof, and on the fourth side by 
a plain trellis or iron pierced by a similar plain gateway. From 
inside, therefore, none of the chapels or the statues ranged along 
the walls of the court are visible, and the darkness thereby caused 
under the portico is greatly increased by the half-drawn awnings, 
of which the ropes slant downwards across the opening, and form 
perches for a special colony of orange and purple swallows, whose 
nests cling up to the overhanging eaves. 

" In this central court two statues sit, one — that to the left — 
is about life size, the other is of gigantic proportions. Both of 
them present the same peculiarity — one which cannot fail to 
arrest the eye at once. Each is seated upon a throne in European 
fashion, and this identifies them at once. Of all the Bodisats, 
heroes, or teachers which fill the calendars of Lamaism, only the 
image of the coming Buddha is thus represented. How this 
tradition arose the lamas themselves are unable to explain, but 
it is of great antiquity, and it is to Europe that the eyes of Bud- 
dhism are turned for the appearance of the next reincarnation 
of the Great Master. As will be remembered, the Tzar of Russia 


was recently recognized as a reincarnate Bodisat/ and it is not 
impossible that this legend paved the way considerably for his ac- 
ceptance. Crowned with a huge circlet set with innumerable 
turquoises, Maitreya sits here with one hand raised in benediction, 
the other resting upon his knee. On his breast lies a tangled 
mass of jewelled chains and necklaces, and vast * roundles ' of 
gold, set with concentric rings of turquoises, half hide his huge 
shoulders. We caught only a hurried glimpse as we passed on; 
for the order in which the sights of a Buddhist temple may be 
visited is invariable, and we took care not to offend the sus- 
ceptibilities of the lamas by deviating from the orthodox left- 
to-right course which forms part of their religious observances. 
The * way of the wine ' is a custom which would need no ex- 
planation to a Buddhist. 

" Once under the eastern end of the Jo-kang, one finds the 
darkness deepen fast. There is no light but such as can find its 
way under the wide half-roofs and through the trellises, screens, 
and awnings which almost entirely close in the central court. In 
the gloom one passes by ancient chapel after chapel, where the 
dim half-light barely reveals the existence of the dark recess 
guarded by its iron screen. The archaic walls share with 
the smooth worn pillars the burden of the warped rafters 
overhead. The stone slabs underfoot are worn into a channel, 
and the grime of a thousand years has utterly hidden the pictures 
— if there ever were any — on the walls. At last one turns to 
the right, passing close beneath the uplifted figure of the great 
Tsong-kapa, the Luther of Central Asia. It is a contemporary 
likeness, and one could wish that there were more light by which 
to see it than is afforded by the dim radiance of the butter-lamp 
before his knees. But his very posture is significant ; for, instead 

*Kawaguchi, the Japanese traveler, says that he has been identified as 
"Ze Zongawa." This, in O'Connor's opinion, is merely a misreading of 
Tsong-kapa. , 


of having his back to the wall behind him, Tsong-kapa faces 
south, and this is the first indication that we are at last drawing 
near to the Holy of Holies. 

"We have now reached the eastern end of the Cathedral, 
and are passing behind the trellis-work of the inner court; in 
the twilight it is difficult to distinguish the half-seen figures which 
people the recesses and line the sides of the path along which we 
grope our way. Ten paces more and the Jo itself is before us. 

" The first sight of what is beyond question the most famous 
idol in the world is uncannily impressive. In the darkness it is 
at first difficult to follow the lines of the shrine which holds the 
god. One only realizes a high pillared sanctuary in which the 
gloom is almost absolute, and therein, thrown into strange re- 
lief against the obscurity, the soft gleam of the golden idol 
which sits enthroned in the centre. Before him are rows and 
rows of great butter-lamps of solid gold, each shaped in curious 
resemblance to the pre-Reformation chalices of the English 
Church, Lighted by the tender radiance of these twenty or thirty 
beads of light, the great glowing mass of the Buddha softly looms 
out, ghostlike and shadowless, in the murky recess. 

" It is not the magnificence of the statue that is first perceived, 
and certainly it is not that which makes the deepest and most 
lasting impression. For this is no ordinary presentation of 
the Master. The features are smooth and almost childish ; beauti- 
ful they are not, but there is no need of beauty here. Here is no 
trace of that inscrutable smile which, from Mukden to Ceylon, 
is inseparable from our conceptions of the features of the Great 
Teacher. Here there is nothing of the saddened smile of the 
Melancholia who has known too much and has renounced it all 
as vanity. Here, instead, is the quiet happiness and the quick 
capacity for pleasure of the boy who had never yet known either 
pain, or disease, or death. It is Gautama as a pure and eager 
prince, without a thought for the morrow, or a care for to-day. 


No doubt the surroundings, which are effective almost to the 
verge of theatricahty, account for much, but this beautiful statue 
is the sum and climax of Tibet, and as one gazes one knows it 
and respects the jealousy of its guardians. The legendary his- 
tory of this idol is worth retelling. It is believed that the like- 
ness was made from Gautama himself, in the happier days of his 
innocence and seclusion in Kapali-vastu. It was made by Vis- 
vakarma — no man, but the constructive force of the universe — 
and is of gold, alloyed with the four other elemental metals, 
silver, copper, zinc, and iron, symbolical of this world, and it 
is adorned with diamonds, rubies, lapis-lazuli, emeralds, and the 
unidentified Indranila, which modern dictionaries prosaically ex- 
plain as sapphire. This priceless image was given by the King 
of Magadha to the Chinese Emperor for his timely assistance 
when the Yavanas were over-running the plains of India. From 
Peking it was brought as her dowry by Princess Konjo in the 
seventh century. The crown was undoubtedly given by Tsong- 
kapa himself in the early part of the fifteenth century, and the 
innumerable golden ornaments which heap the khil-kor before 
the image are the presents of pious Buddhists from the earliest 
days to the present time. Among them are twenty-two large but- 
ter-lamps, eight of a somewhat smaller size, twelve bowls, two 
' Precious Wheels of the Law,' and a multitude of smaller arti- 
cles, all of the same metal. 

" These are arranged on the three shelves of the khil-kor, and 
the taller articles conceal the whole of the image from his shoul- 
ders downwards. To this fact may perhaps be due the common, 
but mistaken, description of the Jo as a standing figure. Across 
and across his breast are innumerable necklaces of gold, set with 
turquoises, pearls, and coral. The throne on which he sits has 
overhead a canopy supported by two exquisitely designed dragons 
of silver-gilt, each about ten feet in height. Behind him is the 
panel of conventional wooden foliage, and the * Kyung,' or 


Garuda Bird, overhead can just be seen in the darkness. Closer 
examination shows that almost every part of the canopy and seat 
is gilded, gold, or jewelled. The crown is perhaps the most in- 
teresting jewel. It is a deep coronet of gold, set round and round 
with turquoise, and heightened by five conventional leaves, each 
enclosing a golden image of Buddha, and encrusted with precious 
stones. In the centre, below the middle leaf, is a flawless tur- 
quoise six inches long and three inches wide, the largest in the 
world. Behind the throne are dimly seen in the darkness huge 
figures standing back against the wall of the shrine all round. 
Rough-hewn, barbarous, and unadorned they are, but nothing 
else could have so well supplied the background for this treasure 
of treasures as the Egyptian solemnity of these dark Atlantides, 
standing shoulder to shoulder on altar stones, where no lamps are 
ever lighted and no flowers are ever strewn. Before the entrance, 
protecting the treasures of the shrine, is the usual curtain of 
horses' bits. This was unfastened at our request, and we were 
allowed to make a careful examination of the image. . The gems 
are not, perhaps, up to the standard of a European market; so 
far as one could see, the emeralds were large, but flawed, and, 
as is of course inevitable, the pearls, though of considerable size, 
were lustreless; but it would be difficult to surpass the exquisite 
workmanship of everything connected with this amazing image, 
and a closer inspection did but increase the impression of opu- 
lence." Nothing was more striking than the persistent use of 
pearls, and amber and coral. As one looked, there was almost 
the very sound of the far distant and unknown sea in among these 
murky caverns of granite darkness and dirt. 

"The altar below the khil-kor is of silver, ornamented with 
conventional figures of birds in repousse work, and one smiled to 
see in the most conspicuous place of all, thrown carelessly in a 
cleft between two of the supports, the usual greasy rag, with 
which the sacred image was daily rubbed. Two long katags 












< -s 

^ 1 

!-l 5 

< " 



descend from the crown one from either side above the ears. 
Between the two dragons and the image itself are two square 
pillars of silver heavily ornamented. The edge of the canopy 
above is crisped. One could not see in that light how it was 
finished above. 

" Outside, the maroon-robed monks sat and droned their never- 
ending chant. We pass by them, and, after a glance at the Mai- 
treya at nearer range, we were taken upstairs to the first floor, 
which runs only along the inner court, passing on our way the 
famous representation of Chagna Dorje. This, in one account 
of the Jo-kang, is said to be the statue round the neck of which 
a rope was once tied by order of the apostate. King Langdarma, 
to drag it from its place ; thereupon the miscreant was, of course, 
promptly and miraculously destroyed. As a matter of fact it is 
an image cut in low relief upon the wall itself of the Jo-kang, 
gilded and coloured, and honoured always with rows of copper 
lamps. I made a rapid sketch of it. The right hand is raised and 
holds something which looks like a sword or a sceptre. All of 
it is crude and rough to the last degree. This is but another 
example of the inaccuracy which characterizes all the extant de- 
scriptions of the Cathedral of Lhasa. It would be easy to multi- 
ply similar cases; in fact, hardly anything has been properly 
noted. On the first floor there are chapels maintained by the 
devotion of special races of the Buddhist faith. Among them 
the Nepalese chapel was pointed out. The story that there is 
here the image of Buddha brought by the Nepalese wife of 
Srong-tsan-gambo, is without foundation. This image, or one 
claiming to be it, is at the monastery of Ki-long or Ki-rong, near 
the Nepalese frontier. 

" Above, on the second floor, is an image which, after the Jo 
itself, is the most important treasure that the Jo-kang con- 
tains. In the south-eastern corner of this storey is the armoury, 
where the walls and pillars alike are loaded with ancient and 


grotesque instruments of war. From this room a low, narrow 
passage leads down half-a-dozen stone steps into a small dun- 
geon, where the statue of the guardian goddess, Palden-Lhamo, 
is worshipped. This is a most amazing figure. The three-eyed 
goddess, cro"wned with skulls, grins affably with mother-of-pearl 
teeth from her altar; upon her head and breast are jewels which 
the Jo himself might condescend to wear. Eight large, square 
charm-boxes of gold and gems, two pairs of gold-set turquoise 
earrings, each half a foot in length, and a diamond-studded fillet 
on the brow beneath the crown are perhaps the most conspicuous 
ornaments. Her breast-plate of turquoise and corals is almost 
hidden by necklaces, and a huge irregular pearl, strongly re- 
sembling the ' Dudley ' jewel in shape, is at last distinguishable 
in the centre leaf of her crown. Before her burn butter-lamps, 
and brown mice swarm fearlessly over walls and floor and altar, 
so tame that they did not resent being stroked on the lap of the 
goddess herself. 

" With this famous image of the guardian deity — who, as every 
Tibetan knows, from the Dalai Lama to the peasant in the field, 
was reincarnated during the last century as Queen Victoria — the 
list of treasures in the Jo-kang of a special interest to Europeans 
is perhaps concluded. But for the Buddhist scholar there is an 
unexplored wealth which it may be many years before any second 
visitor will have the privilege of inspecting, or the knowledge to 
appreciate. The great eleven-faced Shen-re-zig, the * precious ' 
image of Tsong-kapa, the innumerable figures of divine teachers, 
each symbolically representing the spiritual powers with which 
he was endowed, the great series of the disciples of Buddha, the 
statue of the Guru Rimpoche, the usual * chamber of horrors,' 
and hundreds of other objects, each worthy of the great Pantheon 
of Lamaism— all these must for the moment remain unnoticed. 
But the longer one stays within these strange and sacred courts, 
the more amazing does the contrast appear between the priceless 

riches and historic sanctity of their contents and the squaHd ex- 
terior of the most sacred structure in all the vast domain of Bud- 
dhism. Yet the face of the Buddha remains the dominant im- 
pression of the whole." 

As we left the Cathedral a significant thing occurred. I do not 
suggest for a moment that the Chinese deliberately let us in for 
the hostile demonstration which we now encountered, but the 
fact that they had used the presence of our troops outside to inflict 
upon the Jo-kang what the lamas and perhaps the people of Lhasa 
also regarded as a slight, may have incensed the people. Our 
horses had been left outside the western gates, and the fact of our 
being inside the building was therefore patent to every passer-by. 
We emerged from the dark inclosures of the Cathedral into the 
blazing sunlight to find half the population of Lhasa waiting for 
us in a dense, growling crowd. They were pressing upon our 
horses and men, and they had filled the entire courtyard right up 
to the Do-ring. 

I am not perfectly certain who gave the order, but I am in- 
clined to think that it was the Viceroy's first secretary, who ac- 
companied us on our tour of inspection round the temple ; imme- 
diately, a great, powerfully built lama with a weighted eight-foot 
whip of what looked like rhinoceros hide ran forward and 
struck out right and left, inflicting appalling blows on the packed 
crowd. It sullenly gave way before him, and an avenue was left 
through the courtyard, to the road leading out toward the town 
door and the Yutok Sampa. I had walked forward a few paces 
to look again at the Do-ring, not entirely realizing the position, 
while the others mounted their horses and slowly rode out. The 
first stone came with a crash against the Do-ring itself, missing 
Mr. White's head by a few inches. It was the signal for a hun- 
dred more. Great jagged pieces of granite, weighing two or 
three pounds, kicked out of the walls or pulled up from the road, 


crashed from the house-tops and the street upon our little party, 
and it was interesting to notice that the stones were directed ob- 
viously against our Chinese escort rather than against ourselves. 
We had, of course, our revolvers in our pockets, but even a single 
shot over their heads under such circumstances, though it would 
without question instantly have brought the Tibetans to reason, 
might, in the long run, have complicated the negotiations, so we 
rode out slowly, trying to look as dignified as we could. But it 
was probably a relief to all concerned when we reached the little 
door in the city wall which leads out to the central park. 

The real significance of this incident must not be mistaken ; in 
itself it was of no very great moment, but as indicating the utter 
contempt felt by the Tibetans for the suzerain power of Tibet, it 
is something which we cannot entirely ignore. The more we 
acquit the actual guardians of the temple from all complicity in it, 
the more spontaneous and popular does this outburst of indig- 
nation against the normal overlords of Tibet become. Even when 
their suzerainty was supposed to be supported by the presence of 
our troops outside, it was possible that this could occur in the 
heart of Lhasa, and it is in itself a convincing proof that no action 
of the Chinese with regard to Tibet will, in the future, have any 
real importance, or be regarded by the Tibetans as binding upon 
themselves in any way. 

This was my last sight of the interior of Lhasa, and I am not 
sorry that it should have been so — after this, anything and every- 
thing would have been but an anti-climax. On the following day 
before dawn I set off on my long ride back to India, carrying de- 
spatches both to the Viceroy and to the Home Government. 



I LEFT Lhasa just before the dawn on the morning of the 
15th of August, passing out toward the western end of the 
plain, then still enshrouded in darkness, but spanned by the most 
beautiful rainbow I have ever seen in my life. The Potala, rising 
straight in front of me as I left the Lha-lu house, was distinct 
enough against the growing amber of the south-eastern sky. 
There had been snow in the night, and a white pall came far down 
the mountain-sides all round. The greenery had not yet begun to 
detach itself from the darkness, but the road was clear enough, 
and after gaining the main road by the causeway across the 
marsh, I turned to the right and set off with the escort. 

It is a curious thing that, on the whole, I have found almost 
more interest taken in this lonely return journey of mine than in 
anything else that occurred during the seven months of my stay 
in Tibet ; yet the story is simple enough. There were two reasons 
why I went as fast as possible. The first was that I was carrying 
despatches both to the Viceroy at Simla and to the Home Govern- 
ment. Another was that there was a certain practical value in 
knowing exactly how fast mounted men, not unduly pressing 
their horses, could, with kit, travel from Darjeeling to Lhasa or 
from Lhasa to Darjeeling. The distance, if a perfectly straight 
course can be kept, is 390 miles, but, from one reason or another, 
the total amount that I had to cover was about 400 miles. For 
example, four miles were lost over the crossing of the Tsang-po 
alone. The military authorities in India had issued instructions 



that I was to be assisted in every possible way. Had it not been, 
in fact, for the kindly co-operation and help which I found at 
every stage, it would have been impossible for me to do the jour- 
ney in anything like the time I actually took. 

The first stage was a long one. The sun rose about the time 
that I passed De-bung Monastery, and I was glad of its warmth. 
Hitherto the road had passed the plantations and thickets, 
swamps and fields that I had again and again revisited. Hence- 
forward it was to go over an old track indeed, but throughout 
from a different point of view, which counted for much, and with 
a rapidity which afforded one a far better proportional view of 
the whole road between Lhasa and India than the toilsome daily 
movement of a force can ever give. 

Near De-bung I passed many little companies of Tibetans, both 
men and women, going into Lhasa with ponies laden with goods 
for market. A light rain blew in their faces as we came along, 
and, head to wind, they were often almost upon me before they 
knew of my coming. But there was always the same kindly 
smile and some unintelligible remark smothered in a fold of their 
robe. After sunrise the rain ceased. I followed the road through 
the cultivated patches that lead on from one clump of white houses 
to another, all nameless so far as I could ascertain. Sooner than 
I had expected the road raised itself a little and by a stone cause- 
way reached up to Tolung Bridge. The river beneath me was in 
a different state from that which we had previously known. Sul- 
len floods of brownish water banked themselves against the re- 
taining walls, and swooped down with concentrated viciousness 
upon the long sterlings of the bridge. A Sepoy sentry on either 
side roused himself as I passed. On the bridge I turned to look 
at the Potala, just then reflecting the first rays from its golden 
roofs. It was strangely clear, and I could hardly believe that it 
had seemed so far away when we had seen it on our arrival at 
this point. The clouds seemed driven upward along the whole 


line of mountains which contained the plain. They formed a 
pearl-gray canopy, of which the lower edge was cut, as before^ 
with knife-like sharpness. The greenery of the plain ran riot. 
From Tolung we went on past isolated farmsteads, keeping our 
right shoulders forward, till at last the tall heap of stones and 
the chorten, to which I have before referred, crawled slowly up 
toward us. 

When it came to the point, it was no easy thing to see the last 
of Lhasa. But I knew that when that heap was reached, the last 
of Lhasa was just about to fade behind the spur which runs out 
from the southern hills. It needed no pile of stones to tell me 
that. I had been watching, with concentration and almost sad- 
ness, the slowly dwindling palace of the forbidden town. I would 
have given a good deal then to go back. But the thing was set- 
tled, and it had to be done. I went on till I reached the stones, 
and there halted to look at the two small pyramids of gray which 
rose far away in the distance just beyond the end of the jagged 
spur. There the great structure stood, careless, impassive, and 
eternal as the pyramids. The lines of terrace and descent could 
still be traced. The dark, red mass— red only because one knew 
that it was red, not red because at that distance any color could be 
certainly seen— sat enthroned in its white chair. Its whole intent 
was cast away from me, away too from the tented camping- 
ground, and the Lha-lu house which I had left ; but every window 
pre-supposed a greater thing, that thrice-sacred shrine in central 
Lhasa which is the center of all the life and all the fascination of 
Buddhism, that golden idol which I should never see again. A 
spit of gray rain slanted across the hill above Sera. I went on. 
But I can assure the reader that for twenty yards the Potala is. 

still to be seen. 

The road now humps itself over a little stream by a stone-built 
curve. As you descend on the western side of this small culvert, 
and not before, the last vestige of the Potala is hidden from your 


view forever. The road goes on, but for many miles the warmth 
had gone out of the sun, the light was missing from the distant 

Still sturdily trotting forward, one saw again the landmarks 
of our advance, and one halted to look at the gigantic Buddha in 
his stone recess, not only perhaps in curiosity; perhaps also to 
stave off for thirty seconds the last sight one will ever have of the 
plain in which Lhasa lies. But there is a long journey still before 
us, and I went on, something depressed at heart. 

At Netang the first halt was made. I thought that, as we had 
done twelve miles, it was but fair to give both men and beasts a 
rest and food, so we dispnounted on a grassy patch by the road- 
side, not very far on from where a running stream runs a moat- 
like course between the white mud-walls of a substantial farm. 
We went on again in twenty minutes. The road was good 
enough, but already the coming weariness of this long trek was 
borne in upon me. There is, perhaps, something suggestive of 
keen pleasure and quickened appreciation in the idea of traveling 
fast over mountainous passes and the highest plateau on earth, 
day after day, day after day. But though I am glad to have done 
this journey, it was no cheery matter in the doing. I suppose 
that the knowledge that you may not stop, whatever your need, 
whatever your weariness, helps, to a cei"tain extent, to tire you in 
advance. The day's program must be carried through; there 
is no help for it. To such and such a place you must reach before 
nightfall ; if you do not, you must go on through the night until 
you do reach it. Morning after morning you must rise at five 
o'clock or even before five, and you must press on with your 
strange escort till the next change of horses gives you ten min- 
utes' rest. If you stay to rest, if you slacken your pace for two 
miles to see some specially beautiful view, you pay for it— not 
then, when you could well afford to pay for it, but at the end of 
your day, when you are content to drag yourself into the post 


you have watched slowly increasing through the gloom with eyes 
so tired that they have ceased to care much whether they see any- 
thing more or not that day. And the knowledge of what is before 
you every day helps to take away the poetry of such a ride. If, 
under these circumstances, you want to see the unrivaled beauty 
and the exquisite attraction of such a journey you must bring 
a stout heart with .you. The fourth day sees you an utterly sore 
and wearied man, already skinned by the bitter wind, wondering 
quietly whether the next day can really be done or not. It is not 
the distance that you have to traverse. This first day we did 
about forty-seven miles; in all, the average stage was hardly 
more than thirty-five miles, but it was thirty-five miles covered at 
an altitude which is felt most heavily in this continual work. One 
could do seventy miles a day more easily in England. 

At 10.37 we reached Nam, where we had another halt. By 
this time we had caught up the convoy which had left Lhasa on 
the previous day. It just so happens that the road here winds 
round by a trang which forbids one to pass a string of laden 
mules. So there was every excuse for going slowly and resting 
thereby. The Kyi chu ran sullenly in a swollen flood, and the 
deep echoes of the water beneath the overhanging cliffs were like 
the grumblings of the sea at Tintagel. At last the road freed 
itself from the intruding hills; we set off at a canter across the 
flat plain and speedily distanced the slowly pacing train. We 
reached Jang, where the willow trees clog themselves and dam 
a small lake below the scarp of the granite hill. It is a pretty 
place, and we had stopped there on our way up. But now there is 
no time. Chak-sam is a long way ahead, and Chak-sam must be 
reached that day. So on we go, and at last, after many miles, we 
reached Chusul. 

The barley fields round Chusul were ripening fast. Otherwise 
there is little change since we passed up by this road a month ago. 
Round the corner, however, we reach the Tsang-po, and here is 


a difference indeed. The brown flood water from bank to bank 
slides by with desperate intention. There is no haste, there is no 
foam, but there is a long journey to go and the waters of the 
Tsang-po are losing no time. The road is under water. Again 
and again I had to climb the cliff-side where the new depth threat- 
ened to sweep my pony off his feet, or hid the edge of safety un- 
derneath its tarnished flood. The willow trees, which before 
stood high and dry above the stream, were now waterlogged, and 
filtered the flotsam of the surface through their reluctant leaves. 
Then, when this became too heavy a burden to be borne, branch 
and all cracked and splintered heavily down the stream, which 
was nearly a mile wide at this point. Beside it the road, some- 
times submerged, sometimes not, struck on till the valley opened, 
and through a picturesque little hamlet where the poplars grew 
thickly together beneath the level of the road, making a shade in 
which no grass would grow, the track made onward still toward 
the low-lying lines of vegetation which mark Pome-tse. Over 
forty miles from Lhasa our northern picket stood, and one dis- 
mounts with utter relief. But all was not over thus. The river 
has yet to be crossed, and for this one has to plod a mile up-stream, 
then embark in a kwor— a frail yak-skin boat, distended upon 
bamboos — and go whirling down-stream, making an almost in- 
visible progress through the brown flood. The land sweeps up- 
stream with amazing velocity as we go. To cross 700 yards we 
travel two miles. Part of that 700 yards is still water, a small 
portion is even a gentle back-flow in the way we wish to go. We 
lose two clear miles in 400 yards. Soon we are swept round just 
beyond the spur of rock from which the ferry started. Straight 
across the whirlpools where poor Bretherton died, our frail craft 
is carried creaking, twisted, awry, as the strain comes alternately 
on one side and the other. At last, however, just as it seems 
that we shall be swept down beneath the chains of Chak-sam 
gompa, the backwater is reached, and we come gently to rest. 


nosing the bank exactly to a foot where a Httle ghat had been 
prepared for us. For sheer skill in watermanship it would be hard 
to beat the thick-skulled grinning boatmen of Chak-sam ferry. 
There was never a moment's hesitation, there was never a mo- 
ment's recovery. The course was as plain to these caramel-eyed 
barbarians as if we had swung across on an aerial wire. Another 
mile had to be covered before I reached my camp that night. I 
dined with Wigram and Davys, good, competent men. The lat- 
ter, with unheard-of daring, succeeded in saving for Candler the 
use of his terribly maimed right hand, tying up the tendons with 
complete and successful disregard of the working drawings of 
his Creator. The former, after many weary months in un- 
thanked solitude, still spent his own money to save his company 
of yaks from dying of starvation by decree of the commissariat. 
On the next morning I rode on easily to Kamba-partsi, where 
the road turns abruptly up the high mountain which separates the 
Yam-dok tso from the waters of the Brahmaputra, 3,000 feet 
below. We had milk at the house beside which the willow grows 
which is twisted into a figure of eight. Then we climbed, 
climbed steadily and wearily, thankful for nothing except that 
we always kept just ahead of a rainstorm clouding the valley 500 
feet below us. We rose and rose until at last, after many halts, 
we saw the side trail which runs along the river bank to Shigatse 
join us from the western slope. Then there was not much more 
to do. We passed the chortens which mark the summit of the 
pass, and, giving my horse to a Sikh, I thankfully went on my 
own feet down the long descent which, after giving again and 
again alternate views of the great blue lake, lands one at last be- 
side its steady unruffled ring of water. Then we went on again 
round the spurs containing the northern shore still blue with lark- 
spur, here dipping far into the recesses where some stream de- 
posited its scanty waters in the lake, there saving half a mile by 
taking the lake-shore down where the nettles could no longer 


grow. Hour after hour passed, and at last Pe-di jong, which we 
had had in sight for six or seven miles, began to grow in size. 
Arrived there, I made the best of my way with Lieutenant Dal- 
mahoy to his eyrie high above the lake in one of the few rooms 
in the castle which was still fit for use. Next day was the most 
merciful of all the eleven days I rode. Owing to the necessity of 
exchanging mails at Ra-lung, there was no use in going farther 
that day than Nagartse jong. This was easy indeed* and quite 
slowly we made our way round the north-western corner of the 
lake, over the causeway of Good Luck, and round the arm of the 
lake to the western shore. It was a short day, and I reached 
Nagartse before one o'clock. 

Here Moody told me that among the duties unexpectedly 
thrown upon him was that of supplying the bare necessities of 
life to the neighboring villages which had been mercilessly sacked 
by the followers of the Tongsa Penlop. In every case we had 
left in each house sufficient to last it through the winter, but these 
Bhutanese brigands had swooped down upon the luckless villagers 
in our rear and had deprived them even of the last pound of grain 
or meal. 

On the 1 8th I left Nagartse at seven o'clock, and arrived at the 
scene of the fight on the Karo la four hours later. It was an in- 
teresting ride. All the way up the valley the flowers thicken. It 
would have been impossible for any one, as we came down, to 
guess how carpeted the desolate valley would be in a month's 
time. Now there were sheets of blue larkspur below, and above 
it purple and pink blossoms in myriads. Young green brushes of 
wormwood, the tall cool green pipes of hemlock, the insistent 
orange of the marigold, and the yellow of dandelions blended in 
confusion with the long feathery bents of windlestraws. In every 
crevice up the rock little ferns clung, vetches and strange violet 
primulas grew on the very face of the rock itself, and the gray- 
green and gray-purple pyramids of the monkshood stood amongst 
all this luxuriant beauty like devils in heaven. 


The road was easy enough. I passed the camping-ground below 
Dzara in good time, and after crossing the stream which had been 
so black before, turned the sharp corner which gives one the first 
sight of the position held by the enemy in May and July. By the 
side of the road, almost within arm's length, there were two 
enormous Himalayan eagles fastened upon some piece of carrion. 
One heavily flapped away; the other held his ground, and I was 
able to examine him closely. They were huge birds, probably 
of the condor species, and the general effect is heightened by the 
very untidiness of their plumage. In color black, shot with deep 
Prussian blues, toning off here and there into grays, but never 
enough to lighten the somberness of the whole ; a beak like a pick- 
ax, eyes, head, crest, and breast all dark alike.^ Pushing on past 
the place where the walls still lay in confusion, I reached the pass 
at noon, and descended into the Plain of Milk. This was now a 
shifting, soaked mass of snow and sleet, and one hugged the path 
by the cliff. At last the narrow gorge down into Gom-tang was 
passed, and the wide, rolling plain stretched before me to the en- 
tering in of Ra-lung. Here I found Lieutenant Arundell, cheer- 
ful in spite of the long isolation from which he saw no escape for 
many weeks to come. He had discovered— what the Chinese mail 
runners had failed to find— wood in the wilderness, and a great 
heap of firewood taken from a neighboring nullah helped to make 
Ra-Iung a very different place from what it had been on the three 
other occasions on which I had passed through it. 

On the next day, the 19th, the road was gay with flowers, but 
the grim severity of the spurs and clefts of granite was only in- 
tensified by this thin film of gaiety. At Gobshi, where I arrived 
shortly before eleven o'clock, crops again appeared— crops, that is, 
which actually promised ripeness and grain. I made no stay at 
the village, passing on beside the roughly-piled walls of quartzite, 
coral pink, sienna, and white through which the feathery nettles 

* I could not find in the Natural History Museum any bird resembling 
these, so I cannot give them a name. 


stabbed, and over which the clematis sprawled behind a rank 
growth of larkspur and forget-me-not. I halted for half an hour 
at the end of the cultivation, and then pressed on over the re- 
maining fifteen miles to Gyantse. There is nothing to record, 
nothing different, nothing significant; but the weariness of the 
journey was just then telling heavily upon me, and I was glad, 
indeed, when at last I made my way in through the Gurkha gate 
to the post I knew so well. Colonel Hogge received me with the 
utmost hospitality. Two companies were occupying the jong, and 
I turned in that night with the comfortable assurance that I 
should not be disturbed by the raucous war-cry which we had 
heard so often during our investment. The next day I went on 
again over the hardest journey of the road. 

I rode out with Shuttleworth in the earliest dawn. We had 
two mounted infantry men with us, but, by this time, it was al- 
most unnecessary to take precaution. We went along aimlessly in 
the clear morning air. He was only going to Sau-gang, and I 
trusted to putting on speed afterward to make up for a pleasant 
and lazy march of thirteen miles. At Sau-gang we had break- 
fast, but our host, the commandant, was in bed nursing his own 
quinsy. It seemed a strange thing that so important a post should 
have not even a hospital assistant to look after it. From Sau- 
gang I moved on by myself with an escort of four men. The 
scene of the Red Idol fight was very different from what it was 
when I had last seen it. The vegetation grew rankly in between 
the boulders, the eyots in the stream were covered with thick, 
short, vivid grass, and there seemed to be ten times as many trees 
as one had expected to find. It is a long and wearying journey, 
and is, as a matter of exact length, understated in the official esti- 
mates. So at least I was assured by the officers at both ends of 
the stretch, so I was willing enough to believe. 

At last the blood-stained altar rock on the hill at the entrance 
to the gorge was passed, and I came out into the more open 


ground through which the river ran evenly. But there was still 
a long pull, and it was not till past one o'clock that I reached the 
Hot Springs. Forty minutes later I rode into the temple which 
we had fortified and were using as a post on the road. It was this 
post which had been attacked by the Tibetans when Colonel 
Younghusband made his hurried descent upon the Chumbi Valley 
in the early days of June. I had luncheon there, and inspected 
the great idol-houses down below on the ground floor. The paint- 
ing on the walls here is different from that in other temples. It is 
of a much more archaic type, and approximates rather to Indian 
than to Chinese art. The place had been kept blocked up, and 
though it was in the usual confusion which marks Tibetan tem- 
ples at all times, not much had been taken away. After a halt of 
three quarters of an hour, I set out again for the stage of the day. 
I had already covered 31 miles and there remained before me 14. 
This, I think, was on the whole the most wearisome part of all 
the ride. People at home are rarely very tired, or if they are, 
they are generally tired in company ; but there is something about 
the last few miles of a day's journey like that which I was now 
making, which almost defies description for sheer weariness. One 
has long ceased to take the slightest interest in the scenery or any- 
thing else. One barely raises one's eyes : riding or leading one's 
horse, one has eyes only for the ground immediately at one's feet. 
Unless an object comes within the ten-foot radius of your gaze, 
you do not care to lift your head to see it. The most perfect glow 
of crimson evening upon the distant ice-fields of the Himalayas 
is not so interesting as a rare level ten-yards' stretch of good road. 
Slowly, very slowly, the ribbon of the track unwinds itself and 
crawls beneath you. The shape of the stones, the wetness of the 
gray sand between them, the tilt of the sharp outcrop, the stability 
of a pebble, the little casual weeds and plants that sometimes grow 
beside the bigger boulders, a leaf thrown down here and there, a 
piece of wood, every now and then the stepping-stones by which. 


if you are on your feet, you cross a little angry torrent— all these 
have a real interest for you. On other days one's attention 
is chained to the slowly sliding roadway, not from weariness 
only, but because it is positively dangerous to lift your eyes 
one moment from the stones on which your next foot was to be 

There is an expression used by Sophocles in his " CEdipus Ty- 
rannus " which scholars who sit in arm-chairs have sometimes 
failed to understand: 

7j TTOiKiXoidog ^<j)iy^ rb npog ttooI OKonecv 
(ledevTag T]fj,dg rd<pavfi npoa^yeTO 

All that Sophocles intended was that the presence of the sphinx 
made men care little for anything but what lay immediately be- 
fore them. But only a nation of travelers in a land of mountains 
could have understood to the full the meaning of the phrase. 
" What lies at one's feet," that is, indeed, the only thing which 
chains the attention of wanderers in a land like this. Often one 
does not lift one's eyes from the road for miles at a time. To 
look around you perhaps means that you have to halt, and you 
never forget that you pay for a five minutes' halt in the cool of 
the afternoon by five minutes' stumbling over sharp and danger- 
ous rocks after night has fallen. There is not much interest or 
excitement about this work. You go on, and it seems to you that 
you have been going on for months. The prospect of arriving 
at your journey's end becomes something in the future so remote 
that it is hardly worth while troubling yourself about it ; only you 
still go on — on — on. ' On — though your beast may be too tired to- 
trot, on — though you may yourself be so footsore that each step 
is pain, on — although you may be dropping with fatigue, on you 
still have to go. Many people I have met have thought that there 
was some strange romance about this rapid passage over the 
very ridge-poles of the world. There was none. What you were 


doing to-day you would have to do to-morrow, and the day after, 
and you instinctively shrank from the weariness of anticipating 
day after day of this tedious tramp. It is true that it was only 
toward the evening that this depression assailed you. The heat 
of the day was comfortable compared to this. Then you had at 
least the contented knowledge that you had hours in front of you ; 
probably, also, you had had, or were going to have, your mid-day 
meal. It might rain perhaps, or you might have a stinging wind 
blowing down the funnel of the valley straight into your teeth, 
but such things make no difference. You may be drenched 
through, but it is just as easy to go on. One almost ceases to 
be a free agent on these occasions. If you had had a companion 
with you, you would not have spoken for five or ten miles — you 
would have resented his sanest remark as unnecessary and tire- 
some. And yet the loneliness of my own journey ! 

I got into camp that evening, luckily finding three men from 
Kala tso who had made it their first halting place on the road 
to Gyantse. They gave me the best of dinners, and I rolled 
myself up in my blankets as soon as the last mouthful had been 
eaten. Next morning I went on to Kala tso, and there changed 
horses. Every arrangement had been made for me throughout 
the journey with the greatest care, and after passing by Chalu 
and coming out once more by the waters of the Bam tso, I found 
another relay waiting for me. Here I left all the mounted in- 
fantry behind, except one man to lead the pack-horse. How- 
ever, he was foolish enough to let his own horse go, and as I 
could not waste the time to catch it again, I led my own beast 
all the way into Dochen. Riding on again, I set my head for 
the first time against the bitter wind of the Tang la, and though 
an ekka was at my disposal; I preferred to ride up over the slope 
of the spur behind Tuna rather than prolong the tiresome strug- 
gle against the ceaseless undeviating cold stress of air against 
which clothing seemed to be of no use. I came down into the 


post which the Mission had occupied for so long, and was 
warmly welcomed by Captain Rice. The usual bunch of tele- 
grams was sent, and I slept on the floor of the little mess-room 
underneath the pictures cut out from illustrated papers which 
will remain for a hundred years as a mystery peculiar to the 
houses along our route. Next morning I reached the Tang la 
in as good weather as one ever has over this detestable barrier. 
I dropped down on the farther side to the posting-station, and 
came on to Phari, where Captain Rawlings met me. 

Phari had suffered severely since I had seen it last. Large 
gaps had broken away from the wall of the jong, and it had 
been worth no one's while to repair them. They betrayed the 
shoddiness of the building. It is only a skin of stone, filled in 
with rubble, and for purposes of defense, it would be better if 
the whole of the keep were leveled with the ground. Except 
for this damage the scene was almost unchanged since the 28th 
of March. 

Raw blue-gray shafts and terraces of pointed rock rise rarely 
from among the unclothed curves of treeless and shrubless 
brown down-land bosoming and sweeping as far as the eye can 
see. Here and there on a northern slope the white snow for a 
few hours after dawn streaks the side of the hills in a tangle of 
lace work crossed horizontally with burhel or yak tracks. For 
the rest, the snow that falls at night is, as a rule, thawed and 
gone by ten or eleven on the following morning, and looking 
south one saw again the dusty hillsides, rounded from end to 
end, except where a dry watercourse distinguishes with dirty 
ocher the dirtier drab which clothes the whole visible field of 
sight. A painter might force himself to call the dun waste of 
the ringing hills green, but only in so far as distance veils with 
a bluish haze the buff-soiled earth at his feet. It is all the same. 
Above these nearer eminences rose the pointed terraces of snowy 
mountain ranges— Chumiumo and Pahamri to the west and Ma- 


song Chungdong to the south glittering at midday with jagged 
bastions of white and gray, and the curtains of rock which are 
seen connecting the heights one with another, if they are high 
enough to top the rounded hills, betray their steepness by the 
scanty snow that can find a resting-place. I saw Chumolhari 
again with a feeling of reverence. 

Of all the hills which the expedition saw from the Jelep to 
Phembu-ri, Chumolhari is queen. One cannot wonder at the 
invention which has clothed this extraordinary peak with a sacred 

Phari is at its foot, and one watches it from hour to hour with 
a touch of the respect which has for the Tibetans filled its wind- 
swept clefts and ravines with baffled demons and glorified its 
summit with the presence of the Goddess herself. Like very 
impressive mountains all the world over, in surroundings and 
in shape, it somewhat resembles the Matterhorn. The great 
central pyramid rises from a platform — three miles in length 
and some 5,000 feet below the summit— of which the western 
mile is composed of four parallel serrated ridges of gray- 
toothed peaks, so sharp that little snow can rest on them. Ta 
the east the main mass rises 2,000 feet, into a great, snowy, 
right-angled ridge, which makes up with the central pyramid 
no very fanciful resemblance to the high-peaked, high-cantled 
Mexican saddle. Twenty-four thousand feet high, the peak it- 
self is still curiously free from clouds. In the evening a peri- 
winkle-colored haze may throw a veil of the thinnest gauze be- 
fore it, and all the afternoon the great bellying argent clouds 
crawl helplessly inward from the south and west, powerless to 
resist the gravitational force of this vast upheaval of rock. But 
all day and all night she stands out cloudless and unveiled. She 
holds the sunset long after the plain is in darkness at her feet, 
and at one moment in the dying red light looks not unlike a 
westward-facing lioness couching proudly, with the hollows of ^ 


her huge thigh-bones emphasized by the shadow cast on the 
cantle of the rock. Siniol chu and the Matterhorn, Chumolhari 
and Teneriffe have each something in common, each also their 
own attraction, but the Peak of the Sacred Goddess makes the 
deepest impression of them all. 

I went on over the plain toward Kamparab, and I was sorry 
enough to turn ithe last corner and lose forever the sight of 
the great Tibetan stronghold.^ At Kamparab the real beauty 
of the Chumbi Valley begins. It is true that here and there 
the plain around Phari had been so blue with forget-me-nots that 
the illusion of still pools of clear water was absolutely irresisti- 
ble. The barley-fields near the jong were just giving up the 
attempt to produce a harvest. The weather had been milder 
than usual, and the bearded ears were all there, but in a whole 
field there would not have been found an egg-cupful of grain. 
At Kamparab the converging slopes of the valley were standing 
thick with colored flowers. I am a poor botanist and I could 
get very little information from any one during the entire ex- 
pedition, but I believe that collections were made by native col- 
lectors sent up by the director of the Botanic Gardens in Calcutta, 
but these men were, in themselves, of no use at any time for my 
purpose. But the result of their labors ought to provide as in- 
teresting an herbarium as could be made in any district in the 
world, though the best collection of pressed flowers is a mere 
mockery. The sheets of gold and mauve and red which swathed 
the steep sides of the valley were doubly welcome after one's 
remembrance of the bleak barrenness of earlier days. Nothing 
grows very high here except a curious form of dock with wide 

*The Chinese route-books describe Phari— of which the original name was 
Namgye Karpo— as a place where neither barley nor rice will grow. It is, 
they say, the southern frontier of Tibet, and quote the curious Tibetan legend 
that Phari is protected to the south by a wall of water, and therefore does not 
need many soldiers. Here the actual numbers of Bhutanese and Sikkimese 
envoys are counted and recounted when they leave the country again, that no 
man should remain. 


green leaves and a cluster of yellow trumpet-shaped flowers. 
All else is but a span in height, but the flowers seem to have 
received the glory which has been denied to the foliage. 

At last, after riding steadily for four hours, I dropped down 
to Dota, where I found the famous frozen waterfall thawed 
away, and a foolish trickle of water was all that reminded one 
of what had been there, and what would again begin to form 
in two months' time. The next day I went on down the rocky 
and broken path beside the stream, made better, indeed, but still 
leaving much to be desired, to Gautso, and through the tangled 
green jungle beside the tumbling waters of the Ammo chu, 
down, always down, till the waste marsh land of Lingmatang 
spread out in front of me. I went on till Galin-ka and Chorten- 
karpo too had been gained and passed, and at last the slowly 
rising roofs of Bakcham promised a rest. I halted here for 
luncheon, and set out on the last stage of my travels in Tibet. 

Here, for the first time, I began to realize what the phrase 
" the rains " means in Sikkim. To an English visitor the rain 
anywhere in India is a somewhat striking experience when met 
for the first time; but Assam alone can compete with Sikkim 
for a sheer deluge of water, daily, consistent, never hurrying, 
and never slackening in volume or rapidity. Beneath it the road, 
which was my first consideration, had long gone to pieces ; only 
the iron-bound stone trail remained, more stairs than track, 
which heaves itself up to the top of the Natu la, and thence drops 
like the side of one of the Pyramids to the lower river levels. 
The corduroy of the road enabled us to get along, slowly and 
with many slips, to and, on the next day, from the warmth 
and welcome of Champitangand Captain H. O. Parr. Beyond 
the corduroy the road was a sucking mass of black mud, steadied 
only by unexpected slopes and slants of hard rock, upon which, 
as one's pony's hoof encountered it, one was as likely to slide 
as stay. There was no help for it. I got off and walked. There 


were ten miles of walking in front of us, and as I have already 
described the road, it will not be necessary to do more than say 
that they are about the cruellest ten miles over which man 
ever dragged his unwilling feet. But the day was bright, and 
there was one great landmark at least by which to reckon our 
progress. Crossing the Natu la was the snapping of the last 
link with all that lay behind me. I had again crossed into Eng- 
lish territory. 

There was not very much more vegetation here than there 
had been in the earlier part of the year, but there was enough 
to mark the distinction of the season. It is not until Changu is 
reached that one dips suddenly below the lake into the trees 
and luxury of true Sikkim. Captain Drake Brockman, whom I 
found at Changu, rowed me over the lake, and I set out over 
the remaining twenty miles of the day's journey about half-past 

There is, perhaps, not much to say about the rest of my 
journey. The road was bad beyond description, and to those 
who knew it well, nothing could be more descriptive than the 
simple truth that the road between the tenth mile and the thir- 
teenth mile was actually the best part of all the journey. Karpo- 
nang was reached and passed, and then a native Havildar set out 
with me to lantern me through the dying day to Chumbi. This 
was the sorest disappointment so far as roads went, for what 
had, when I went over it first, been a well-metaled good bridle- 
path developing near Chumbi into a real cart-road, had turned 
under the downpour into a nubbly sequence of projecting stones, 
ankle deep in white slush. It was, of course, raining by this 
time, but that was not of very great account. In any case one 
would not have been able to do more than about two and a 
quarter miles an hour. As a matter of fact, it took me four 
and a half hours to cover the nine and three-quarter miles that 
lay before me, and long after dark I arrived at the bungalow 


where dinner was awaiting me. Then I climbed up to the Resi- 
dency, where I spent the night. 

The next day I continued the descent, dropping down through 
the sizzing grindstones of the cicadse into the lower valleys of 
the Tista and the Rang-po, burdened every additional mile with 
a heavier blanket of air. When I reached Rang-po, the oppres- 
sion was almost enough to make me faint. My heart was going 
like a sledge-hammer, my lungs seemed to have no grip upon 
the air, and I was nearly deaf. These were all the results of 
coming down too fast from a seven months' residence at an 
altitude of thirteen thousand feet. In twenty-four hours I de- 
scended from 14,500 to 600 feet. Going up was nothing in 
comparison, and, though the movements of the returning force 
were far more leisurely, I fancy the descent tried the hearts of 
sopie of the men far more than the climb. From Rang-po I still 
went on down the river to the Tista Bridge, where Mr. Lister's 
relays were waiting for me, and I climbed up again, to my in- 
tense relief, nearly five thousand feet to the welcome shelter of 
his bungalow among the tea-fields, through the great cactus 
hedges, skeined with the gossamer of " Mary's hair." Next day 
I went on early, and reached Ghoom Station, the end of my long 
ride, at a quarter to nine, having come from Lhasa in eleven 
days and three hours. 

I have done. If it shall seem to some reader that I have 
brought into the course of the narrative even a flash from that 
aurora of fascination which haloed every step we took in this 
strange country, which danced will-o'-the-wisp like along our 
road before us, which at the end sat like St. Elmo's fire within 
the shrine of the great golden idol in the heart of Lhasa— then 
I shall have done more than now seems possible to me as I make 
an end of writing, and turn back the pages of this volume. 

The wide field which the exploration— I had almost said in 
this case the discovery— of a new country always offers, I have 






By Captain H. J. Walton 

Indian Medical Service, lately Medical Officer and Naturalist to 
the Tibet Frontier Commission, 1903-4 

The following sketch of the Natural History of Southern Tibet is 
not intended to be, in any sense, an exhaustive list of the fauna of 
that area; it is merely a brief account of some of the more striking 
animals that were met with in the districts visited by the Tibet Fron- 
tier Commission, While I do not think that much of popular interest 
is omitted, I would point out that, during the months when Natural 
History observations would have been of the greatest interest, in- 
dulgence in such pursuits for those members of the Commission 
who were at Gyantse— amongst them myself — was strictly discour- 
aged by the Tibetans, who emphasized their disapproval of the 
wandering naturalist by forcible protests from the famous " jingals 
from the Jong." 


Of the larger mammals, that with which we became most familiar 
was the kiang (Equus hemionus). Both at Kamba-jong and at 
Tuna there were large numbers of these wild asses. They went 
about, as a rule, in troops of ten to thirty, though, if alarmed, sev- 
eral herds would unite temporarily. There is nothing horse-like 
about the kiang, but from his size and fine carriage he resembles a 
large mule, rather than an ass. The reddish chestnut color of the 
upper parts is well shown off by the white belly and legs. The mane 
is of a darker color, and this color is continued as a narrow stripe 
along the middle of the back, and for some distance down the tail. 



As the kiang is not harassed by the Tibetans, those we saw were 
fairly tame, and would allow one to approach to within about sixty 
yards of them. Then the herd would show signs of uneasiness, and 
would move off for a hundred yards or so. On several occasions I 
tried to get at closer quarters with them. I rode slowly toward a 
herd and the moment the animals became in the least alarmed, I gal- 
loped toward them as fast as possible; but the kiangs outdistanced 
me without an effort; indeed, I never succeeded in getting them to 
do more than make off at an easy canter. It is true that my Tibetan 
pony was not particularly speedy, but a greyhound that belonged to 
one of the officers of the Commission escort was almost equally un- 
successful in the chase of these fleet-footed animals. At Lhasa 
there were three semi-tame kiangs ; all were mares-. Even these, 
however, although one could approach to within twenty yards of 
them, resented attempts at closer intimacy. The kiang must be a 
very hardy animal. Those at Tuna seemed none the worse for the 
very low temperatures experienced there, though their only food con- 
sisted of coarse grasses, to reach which they often had to scratch 
away the snow. 

According to Blanford and other authorities, the kiang is merely 
a variety of the Asiatic wild ass, another variety of which {E. onager, 
V. indicus) occurs in Western India and Baluchistan. It is strange 
that an animal should be found in the bare desert tracts, west of the 
Indus, exposed to quite the other extreme of temperature to that to 
which its near ally is subjected in Tibet. 

A few specimens of the Great Tibetan sheep {Ovis hodgsoni) 
were obtained at high elevations, on the slopes of the mountains near 
Kamba-jong. A fine male is said to measure four feet at the 
shoulder and bears a pair of massive horns, which differ from those 
of Ovis poli by their curve not forming a complete circle. The 
Tibetan sheep is closely allied to Ovis amnion. 

Bharal {Ovis nahnra) were very common on all the lower 
mountain ranges. The females and young, which keep together, 
were cpnstantly seen and were surprisingly tame, but the old males 
with good heads required careful stalking. The Tibetans used to 
- shoot a good many about Kamba-jong. The bharal is a wonderful 
climber ; even quite young ones negotiate the most formidable-look- 
ing precipices with apparent ease. Bharal mutton, except that of old 
males, is very well flavored, though it is not to be compared, as an 
article of food, with the Tibetan gazelle. 

This Tibetan gazelle or goa {Gazella picticaudata) was one of the 


commonest animals that we encountered. It occurred in large herds 
on all the open plains and downs. The horns of the male are closely 
ringed and much curved back, being commonly from twelve to 
fourteen inches in length. The female is without horns. Gazelle 
shooting is about the easiest sport to be obtained in South Tibet. 
The meat is excellent for the table. Except in places where they 
had been much worried by us, the gazelles were, as a rule, by no 
means shy. During the day they scatter about grazing over the 
plains. When alarmed, the individuals generally unite into a herd 
and make off at a rapid pace at first, but by using ordinary caution 
one could generally approach within range of them again. 

I have been much puzzled by a statement made by Sir Joseph 
Hooker, in his " Himalayan Journals." He mentions antelopes 
(" Chiru," Pantholops hodgsoni) occurring near the Cholamu Lake. 
Whatever may have been the case in Hooker's time, I am almost 
certain that there are no antelopes in this part of Tibet at the present 
day. The furriers at Lhasa had no skins, nor did I see any horns 
offered for sale. I made inquiries of several educated Tibetans, and 
they all asserted that the animal occurred considerably to the west 
of the country visited by the Tibet Frontier Commission. 

Of the carnivora of South Tibet, the snow leopard (Felis uncia) 
is the largest. Though rarely seen by us — I myself only saw one 
during the fourteen months that I spent in Tibet — it appears to be 
fairly common, judging by the numerous skins that were offered for 
sale by the Tibetans. 

The lynx (F. lynx) also is tolerably common. This animal is by 
some authors considered to be a distinct species (F. isabellina) from 
the European lynx, but the distinction appears to rest mainly on the 
fact that the Tibean lynx is paler in color than the other. 

On two occasions, near Gyantse, I saw a small light-colored cat. 
This was probably Pallas's cat (F. manul) ; but as I did not suc- 
ceed in shooting one, and as the Lhasa furriers had no skins that I 
recognized as belonging to this species, I am uncertain about their 

Wolves (Canis laniger) were shot occasionally during the winter. 
The ordinary Tibetan wolf appears to be considerably paler in color 
than the European animal, but Dr. Blanford considers that the two 
belong to the same species. A black variety of the wolf is said to 
occur in Tibet, but I saw none. 

Otters were seen on several occasions in the vicinity of Phari 
jong. It is much to be regretted that no specimens were obtained. 


We shot examples of two species of foxes. At Kamba-jong, 
Vulpes alopex, var. Havescens, is common. It closely resembles the 
common fox of Europe, of which it is considered a variety, differing, 
like so many Tibetan animals, in being paler in color. It carries a 
magnificent brush. The length from nose to tip of tail of one that I 
procured— an adult male— was 443^ inches, and the height at the 
shoulder 14^ inches. 

The other fox (F. ferrilatus) is a smaller animal, with a relatively 
much shorter tail. It occurs from the neighborhood of Gyantse to 
Lhasa. A fine male, shot near the Karo la Pass, measured thirty- 
six inches in length. 

A light-colored weasel (Putorius alpinus) was tolerably common 
at Gyantse. Its habits are very similar to those of- the European 
weasel, and it feeds largely on birds. 

The woolly hare (Lepus oiostohis) is universally distributed. 
The most obvious distinction from the British hare is afforded by 
the large patch of gray fur over the rump of the Tibetan species. 
This characteristic patch is well marked even in quite young leverets. 
The woolly hare is singular in its custom of habitually squatting 
among bare stones on the hillsides in preference to the grassy plains. 
It was particularly numerous at Kamba-jong, where on one occasion 
three guns shot fifty-four in about three hours. 

The Tibetan marmot (Arctomys himalayanus) occurred very 
locally throughout the country. It was nowhere very numerous, 
and its whistling call was heard more often than the animal itself 
was seen. The places affected by this beast were all at very high 
elevations. The burrows, the entrances to which resemble those 
of the common rabbit, are frequently made under rocks. The mar- 
mots appear to hibernate from about the middle of October to the 
beginning of April. This is quite a large animal, the body being as 
much as two feet in length. 

A much smaller marmot than the preceding species, specimens 
of which I saw but did not shoot near Phari jong, in the Chumbi 
Valley, was probably Arctomys hodgsoni. If so, this species would 
appear not to hibernate as strictly as its larger relative, as it was in 
January that I saw it. 

One of the commonest rodents in South Tibet is Hodgson's mouse- 
hare (Lagomys cursonice). Wherever the country is tolerably level 
the ground is tunneled in all directions by its burrows. This species 
is highly gregarious, and does not hibernate at all. Even during the 
severest cold of the winter the little mouse-hares could be seen 


sitting at the mouths of their runs, sunning themselves. Although 
they are essentially social animals, large numbers living in close prox- 
imity to one another, as a rule their burrows are quite distinct one 
from another ; and although in case of a sudden alarm a mouse-hare 
will take refuge temporarily in the nearest burrow, I noticed on 
several occasions the presumably rightful owner of the burrow driv- 
ing the intruder away. The mouse-hare is a little, tailless beast with 
small rounded ears. It is in shape rather like a guinea-pig, and is 
of about the size of a large rat. The friendly terms on which it 
lives with a small bird — the brown ground-chough (Podoces humilis) 
— recall the somewhat similar association between the " prairie- 
dog" (Cynomys sp.) and the ground-owl {Speotyto cunicularis), 
though in the latter case a rattlesnake is said to form a third member 
of the " happy family." 

Both field-mice and house-mice occur in South Tibet, but the 
species have not yet been identified. A newspaper correspondent, 
in an account he gave of a visit to the Jo-kang in Lhasa, speaks of 
white mice living in one of the shrines of this cathedral. This is an 
error. The mice in this shrine, which are surprisingly tame, belong 
to the species of the ordinary house-mouse of Tibet. This is larger 
than Mus musculus, and considerably paler in color. 

Although I was constantly on the lookout for them, I did not 
see a single bat in Tibet. I was informed by an officer of the escort 
that he had seen some very small bats flying round the jong at 
Gyantse. I went to the place mentioned on many evenings, but no 
bats appeared, and I think it probable that the officer mistook for 
small bats the crag-martins which abounded about the rocks. 

At all low elevations musk-deer (Moschus moschiferus) were 
common, and nowhere more so than at Lhasa. Considering its 
abundance, I was amused at the impudence of some Tibetans who 
wished to sell me a live specimen for thirty-five pounds ! The musk, 
which is obtained from a gland on the belly of the male, is, as usual, 
much in demand among the Tibetans for medicinal purposes. The 
chief characteristics of the animal are the large movable lateral hoofs, 
the long canine teeth, and the peculiar brittleness and wiry texture 
of the fur. 

I was much disappointed at having no opportunity of becoming 
acquainted with the shao {Cervus affinis). This somewhat mysteri- 
ous stag— mysterious, at least, as far as its geographical distribution 
is concerned— must be, to judge from its antlers, one of the finest of 
the Asiatic Cervidce. I took a great deal of trouble in endeavoring 


to ascertain from the Tibetans something definite about the area it 
inhabited. The antlers were common in many monasteries through- 
out the country we visited, and in the shops at Lhasa, but beyond say- 
ing that the shao inhabited a tract of country to the south of Lhasa, 
my informants were all exceedingly vague in their statements. Two 
specimens (one of which, a female, was captured alive, but which 
unfortunately died) were obtained by officers in the Chumbi Valley.' 
These evidently came into the valley from Bhutan, but I obtained no 
reliable evidence as to how far to the East this species ranges. I was 
told that the reason so many shao antlers are for sale at Lhasa, is 
that they are in great demand by Chinese merchants, who export 
them to China to be used medicinally. It is a great pity that the 
antlers are considered to be most valuable when " in .velvet," as this 
naturally necessitates kiUing the animal. 

The wild yak (Bos grunniens) does not inhabit the parts of Tibet 
visited by the Tibet Frontier Commission, but domesticated animals 
are used everywhere for purposes of transport. All tame cattle are 
phlegmatic creatures, but the palm must certainly be awarded to the 
yak for the highest form of philosophical imperturbability. It ap- 
pears to be perfectly indifferent to the weather, provided only that 
it is cold enough; it forages for itself, and requires no grooming, 
stabling, or other attention. At night the Tibetans secure their yaks 
in a row by tying thin yak-hair cords to the beasts' horns and to a 
thicker pegged-out rope. One would think that the yaks had only 
to shake their heads in order to free themselves, but it never seems 
to occur to them how easy it would be to escape. Yak drivers, on the 
march, encourage the yaks to step out by shrill whistles; if more 
drastic measures are required they hurl rocks, with unerring aim, 
or sling stones, with equal skill, at the unfortunate animals. For 
agricultural work, especially for plowing, the Tibetans generally 
use hybrids between the yak and ordinary cattle, as these are more 
docile and easier to manage than the pure-bred yak. A peculiarity 
of the yak, that I have not seen referred to anywhere, is the color of 
the tongue. In some yaks this is quite black, while in others it is of 
the usual red color. In connection with this fact it is interesting to 
remember that several of the domestic dogs of Eastern Asia (for in- 
stance, the chow-chow) have black tongues; but if, as I believe is 
the case, the Polar bear and occasionally the Newfoundland dog also 
have tongues of this color, it seems impossible to imagine any rea- 

* Another small and immature specimen was bought by Brigadier-General 
Macdonald at Lhasa, but this also died.— P. L. 


son for this peculiarity. Possibly it is confined to animals living in 
cold countries, but this suggestion does not explain why only about 
half the yaks are black-tongued. More information is required on 
this subject. 

With the exception of the dogs, there is nothing of special interest 
about the other domestic animals of South Tibet. Excellent wool 
and well-flavored mutton are provided by the sheep, and the common 
goat of the country is a small long-haired animal, resembling the 
goat of Kashmir. 

Although, as a rule, not much trouble is taken by the Tibetans 
in breeding their dogs, these animals are much prized by the people. 
Apart from the swarms of cross-bred mongrels, it is possible to 
recognize at least four well-characterized breeds. Of these, the 
finest is the so-called Tibetan mastiff. This is a great shaggy crea- 
ture, with a very massive head. It is usually black-and-tan in color, 
and has a very thick, rough coat. Its eyes show some " haw " like a 
bloodhound, and it has the pendulous lips of that breed. No monas- 
tery of any pretensions in Southern Tibet is without at least a pair 
of these fierce dogs chained up on either side of the entrance. 

The commonest dog is very like a badly bred collie, but lacks the 
magnificent frill and brush of the latter. 

The Lhasa terrier is an entirely distinct breed. It is very sim- 
ilar to a drop-eared Skye terrier, but carries its tail, which is densely 
feathered, tucked up tightly over its back. It is extremely common 
at Lhasa, but most of the dogs there are too long in the leg, and I 
had much trouble in procuring a really good specimen. 

The other distinctive breed is the Tibetan spaniel. This is a 
small black dog — sometimes black-and-white — rather like a Pekinese 
spaniel. Good specimens of this dog are even more scarce than 
Lhasa terriers. The dogs that are prized most by the better-class 
Tibetans are small Chinese lap-dogs, of various kinds, that are 
brought as presents from Peking by the merchants. 

The Dalai Lama has an elephant at Lhasa. This was sent to him, 
I believe, either from Nepal or Bhutan. It is a small male with 
slender tusks, and has lived in perfect health at Lhasa for some years. 


Among the resident Tibetan birds, two— the lammergeier (Gypae- 
tus barbatus) and the raven (Corvus corax) —are of particular inter- 
est. Both species are almost ubiquitous throughout Southern Tibet ; 


they appear to be quite impervious to the rigors of the climate, and 
keep fat and lively under conditions that would be fatal to other 
birds of their great bulk. The powers of flight of the lammergeier 
are truly superb, and it is a magnificent sight to see one circling, 
without an effort, around some precipitous mountain-peak, an oc- 
casional flap of the wide wings sufficing to impart all the impetus 
required. The old stories of lammergeiers carrying off babies from 
Alpine villages are pretty well discredited nowadays; certainly the 
Tibetan bird appears to feed entirely on carrion, associating with 
griffon vultures around the carcasses of yaks, sheep and other 
animals. On one occasion I put up a hare, which ran for a hun- 
dred yards or more^long a bare hillside, a few yards below a lam- 
mergeier that was sailing along close to the ground. The latter 
took absolutely no notice of the hare, which it might easily have 
seized. No doubt a lammergeier may occasionally take a living 
animal, but I fancy that it would only do this if the beast were 
sickly or very young. There were hundreds of lammergeiers about 
the camps of the Commission at Kamba-jong and Tuna, and I had 
daily opportunities of studying their habits, but I never saw them 
eating anything but offal or dead animals. The length of the 
lammergeier's wings prevents the bird from rising at once from the 
ground ; when it wishes to fly, it is obliged to hop forward for some 
yards, in order to get up a little " way," and it then presents rather 
a grotesque appearance. The weak, querulous cry also seems very 
inappropriate to such a noble-looking bird. During the summer 
months the lammergeier retires to the higher mountains, where it 
makes its large nest on some rocky ledge; but, even then, it comes 
down to the plajns at times, especially in the evening. Thus, both 
at Gyantse and Lhasa, these birds were always to be seen. The 
wedge-shaped tail and peculiar flight enable one to recognize a 
lammergeier immediately, even at a great distance. 

The raven (Corvus corax) is an even more familiar bird in Tibet 
than the lammergeier. Although the Tibetan bird is the same 
species as the European raven, it differs from the latter in being 
usually larger. Ravens occurred at all the camps of the Tibet Fron- 
tier Commission, and where these were more or less permanent, the 
birds literally swarmed, disputing with mongrel dogs for the posses- 
sion of offal. My own previous acquaintance with wild ravens was 
mostly acquired in Iceland. In that country ravens are tolerably 
common, but they are so shy and wild that most of one's observa- 
tions have to be made through the medium of field-glasses. It was, 


therefore, a pleasant surprise to me to find the Tibetan raven so 
utterly devoid of fear that one could stand within five yards of a 
bird, who, quite undisconcerted by such a close scrutiny, would con- 
fine his protest at the most to a croak or two, and resume his un- 
savory repast with undiminished appetite. In spite, however, of 
the Tibetan ravens' tameness, they still retain the wariness common 
to all the CorvidcB; although in a land where firearms are rarely 
carried and where ravens are not molested, they cannot possibly 
associate the sight of a gun with danger to themselves. I found 
them apparently fully alive to my fell designs whenever I went 
after them " on business." As usual with this species, ravens in 
Tibet are early breeders. I found a nest containing young birds on 
the 6th of April, at an elevation of about 15,000 feet. The inhab- 
itants of Lhasa keep several species of birds in captivity; consider- 
ing what excellent pets ravens make, I was rather surprised to see no 
tame ones there. 

The Himalayan griffon vulture {Gyps himalayensis) is another 
common bird occurring up to the greatest altitudes. The wonderful 
rapidity with which numerous vultures appear about a dead animal 
(although a few minutes before its death no more may have been 
visible than a solitary bird soaring high up in the firmament) is a 
familiar fact, but it nevertheless impresses one afresh each time 
that one witnesses it; especially is this the case among the bare 
mountains of Tibet, where such a large tract of country must be 
required to provide sufficient food for each bird. 

Pallas's sea-eagle {Haliaetus leucoryphus) , a large fulvous-color 
bird, with a whitish forehead and a broad white band across the tail, 
was also somewhat numerous, and, in the plains of Gyantse and 
Lhasa, the black-eared kite (Milvus melanotis) abounds. A pair 
of these kites built their untidy nest on a tree standing in the garden 
of the house in which the Commission was living at Gyantse. This 
house was under a daily bombardment from the guns of Gyantse 
jong for over two months, and the kites' nest was directly in the line 
of fire. Although jingal balls were whistling through the leaves, or 
striking the branches, of the tree for many hours on almost every 
day, they scarcely disturbed the kites in the least, and the latter suc- 
cessfully reared their young. 

Of the smaller Falconidce, sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), hob- 
bies (Falco subbuteo) and kestrels (F. tinmmculus) were all fairly 
common ; a few kestrels spent the winter at Tuna, but their numbers 
were largely reinforced by migrants in the spring. Three species of 


owls occurred, among them, the large eagle-owl (Bubo ignavus), 
which is rather common at Lhasa. In the spring hosts of migratory 
birds appeared. Thrushes were represented by the red-throated 
ouzel (Merula ruficollis), on its way to breeding grounds in higher 
latitudes, but most of the following birds remained with us until 
the cold weather set in : Redstarts (Ruticilla ruHventris and R. 
hodgsoni) were particularly numerous, as were also hoopoes 
(Upiipa epops), willow-warblers (Phylloscopus ofHnis), rose-finches 
(Propasser pulcherrimus and Carpodacus severtsovi), cinnamon 
sparrows {Passer cinnamomeus) , and several species of wagtails. 
The resident sparrow of Southern Tibet is the common European 
tree-sparrow {Passer ntontanus). This bird abounds even in places 
which, from the total absence of trees, would apparently prove quite 
unsuitable; however, the bird accommodates itself to circumstances 
and occurs in all the Tibetan villages. 

The horned lark {Otocorys elwesi) is another common resident 
species, but is only met with in the bare, treeless tracts of country, 
and retires to the mountains and higher passes to breed. The same 
applies to the large calandra lark {Melanocorypha maxima), whose 
melodious call-note became very familiar to us. 

Skylarks {Alauda arvensis) abound from Gyantse to Lhasa; 
swifts {Cypselus apiis) and sand-martins {Cotile riparia) occur 
along the well-watered valleys, and swallows {Hirundo rufula, 
stibsp.) and crag-martins {Ptyonoprogne rtipestris) everywhere. 

Flocks of red-billed choughs {Pyrrhocorax graculus) frequented 
the whole of the country that we visited. This is the same bird as 
the Cornish chough, but it differs from the British species in being 
of a larger size. As they do not feed on carrion, it is difficult to 
imagine what food such large numbers find in winter in the bare 
frozen country round Tuna. Magpies {Pica hottanensis) are very 
common at Gyantse and Lhasa. They very closely resemble the 
British magpie (P. rustica), but are distinguishable from the latter 
by having the rump entirely black; they are also somewhat larger 

As might be expected, snow-finches (mountain-finches) are well 
represented in Tibet. Three species {Montifringilla blanfordi, M. 
ruHcollis and M. adamsi) spent the winter with us at Tuna. Though 
there was literally nothing for them to eat there, except the scanty 
seeds of coarse grasses, they kept in excellent condition, even during 
the severest weather. 


The Tibetan twite (Acanthis brevirostris) is also very common 
and very similar in appearance and habits to the European bird. 

No cuckoos were met with; this is rather strange since several 
species, including the familiar Cuculus canorus, are common in 
summer up to high altitudes in the Himalayas. The wryneck {lynx 
torquilla), known in many parts of England as the " cuckoo's mate," 
occurred in small numbers at Lhasa, early in September. It was no 
doubt migrating then, as it is a regular winter visitor to the plains of 

The blue-hill pigeon (Columba rupestris), the differences between 
which and our own blue rock (C. livia) are very trivial, is the com- 
mon pigeon of South Tibet. Although the Tibetans are not pigeon 
fanciers, this bird lives in a semi-domesticated state in all the vil- 
lages. Oddly enough, the "snow" pigeon (C. leuconota), a hand- 
some pied bird, was only seen at comparatively low altitudes in the 
Chumbi Valley. 

There is a good stock of game birds. In the Chumbi Valley 
monals (Lophophorus refulgens) and blood pheasants (Ithagenes 
cruentus) were very numerous, and on the mountains and high table- 
lands the fine Tibetan snow cock (Tetraogallus tibetanus) was al- 
most equally common. Snow partridges (Lerwa nivicola) were de- 
cidedly local in their distribution, but the Tibetan partridge {Perdix 
hodgsonice) was plentiful almost everywhere. It is an excellent 
bird for the table, but is too confirmed a " runner " to afford much 
sport. From the sportsman's point of view, one of the best birds is 
the sand-grouse (Syrrhaptes tibetanus), which also occurred in con- 
siderable numbers. 

The Hram or Bam tso and Kala tso, lakes on the road between 
Tuna and Gyantse, were covered in the spring with innumerable 
geese and ducks, resting, for the most part, on their way to their 
breeding grounds. The only goose shot and positively identified 
was the bar-headed goose (Anser indicus). This bird breeds on a 
lake near Kamba-jong, on the Kala tso, and probably on several 
others of the larger lakes in Southern Tibet. Indeed, at Lhasa, wild 
goose's eggs were offered for sale in the bazaar, but only in small 
numbers. The ruddy sheldrake, or Brahminy duck (Casarca rutila), 
breeds all over the country, making its nest in any sort of hole or 
hollow in the vicinity of some small stream. This bird, owing to its 
extreme wariness, is a perfect curse to the sportsman in India who 
is in quest of wild-fowl. While worthless itself for the table, and 


consequently seldom shot at, it alarms all the better ducks by its loud 
call, and by being the first to take to flight. It was therefore quite 
novel to note how tame the Brahminy was in Tibet. There, when 
nesting, or about to nest, it scarcely took any notice of one, merely 
waddling off a few yards if approached too closely. Another duck, 
which breeds certainly at Lhasa and probably elsewhere, is the white- 
eyed pochard (Nyroca ferruginea). "Flappers," still unable to fly, 
were shot at Lhasa at the end of August. The other ducks that 
were met with in Tibet were the mallard {Anas boscas), the pintail 
(Dafila acuta), shoveler (Spatula clypeata), common teal {Nettium 
crecca), Garganey teal {Querquedula circia) and tufted pochard 
(Nyroca fuligula). Goosanders (Mergus castor) were also com- 
mon from the Chumbi Valley to Gyantse. 

Two species of snipes, the large solitary snipe (Gallinago solitaria) 
and the pintail snipe (G. stenura), were obtained; the latter only at 
Lhasa, where it was very scarce. At Lhasa also redshanks (Totanus 
calidris), moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) and coots (Ftilica atra) 
occurred in large numbers. 

The Tibetans are apparently not very observant people. I asked 
an ofiicial of high rank at Lhasa, who had held appointments at sev- 
eral places in Tibet, how many species of birds he had seen. He was 
silent and thoughtful for a minute or two, while he counted oflF on 
his fingers those that he knew. He then replied that he knew of 
twelve kinds of birds, and had heard of, but had not seen, two others ! 

On the other hand, a few of the Tibetan names of birds imply 
some little observation of their appearance, size or habits. Thus 
the tree-sparrow is called " Kang-che-go-mar," or " the little house- 
bird with the red head " ; " Pang-che," or " the little bird (that 
lives) on grassy hillsides," is Severtzoff's warbler (Leptopoecile 
Sophia), and " Chi-u-teb-tok," or " the little bird as small as the top 
of one's thumb," is a willow-warbler (Phylloscopus aflinis). The 
following names are very good onomatopoeic renderings of the birds' 
notes :—" Pu-pu-pu-shu " is the hoopoe (Upupa epops), and " Di- 
di-ku-ku " is the turtle dove (Turtur orientalis). 

At Lhasa many birds are kept in captivity, the favorite cage-birds 
being larks, rose-finches and turtle doves. 


The streams and lakes of Southern Tibet are well supplied with 
fish. During the summer fishermen from Gyantse and Lhasa go as 


far as the Kala tso lake for the purposes of their trade. The fish that 
they catch vary in weight from about half to two pounds or more. 
They are split in two, like haddocks, and dried in the sun. 

I collected several species, but they are at present awaiting identi- 
fication. One fish, which furnished a good deal of sport to the 
anglers of the Commission and escort, is quite like a trout in color 
and general appearance, but differs in wanting the small " adipose " 
fin. It was as good for the table as for sport. 

Another fish of which we caught large numbers up to four pounds 
in weight in the Tsang-po and in the streams at Lhasa, is an ugly, 
slimy brute, with a flattened head and four long feelers hanging 
from the sides of the mouth. In spite of its repulsive appearance,^ 
it was a very excellent and welcome article of food. 


Of the reptiles, snakes (non-venomous) are said by the Tibetans 
to occur in th*e vicinity of the numerous hot springs, but I was not 
fortunate enough to come across any. 

I collected several species of lizards : the most interesting was a 
large dark-colored animal, which was often to be seen sunning itself 
on the rocky hillsides near Lhasa. Its body is remarkably flattened 
from above downward, and is of a dark stone-gray color, thickly 
marked with black, and a few large white spots. The largest that I 
secured measured sixteen inches in length. 


I was requested by a distinguished Russian naturalist to keep a 
sharp lookout for newts, as little or nothing was known of these 
amphibians. I spent many hours in searching for them, in the most 
likely places, but I found none. Toads, also, seem to be quite want- 
ing in Southern Tibet, but frogs of two or three species are very 
common. Owing, presumably, to the brevity of the Tibetan sum- 
mer, the frogs are only just about able to get through their meta- 
morphoses before the winter sets in, and tadpoles were still com- 
mon in all the ditches and ponds at Lhasa at the end of August. 


To any one possessing an acquaintance with British insects, the 
Tibetan ones seem quite familiar. The common butterflies at once 


recall our "whites," "blues," " tortoiseshells," and " fritillaries," 
and various beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, bees, and dragon- 
flies are strongly suggestive of our own. 

Mosquitoes, of savage propensities, were very common at Lhasa, 
though they were not at all troublesome elsewhere. The extensive 
swamps and marshes around the city were, doubtless, responsible for 
these unpleasant creatures. 


Hunting spiders were common everywhere in summer, but I saw 
no web-spinning ones. Scarlet " velvet mites " also abounded. 
A species of centipede, about an inch and a half in. length, was ob- 
tained in the Brahmaputra valley. 

The Tibetans carry about on their persons a particularly luxuriant 
parasite fauna of the familiar types. As the lower classes of the in- 
habitants of Tibet do not appear to possess even the most rudimen- 
tary ideas on the subject of bodily cleanliness, this is by no means 
to be wondered at. Earthworms seemed to be very local in their 

The general similarity, referred to above as existing between 
Tibetan and British insects, was noticeable too in the case of the 
common mollusks, which closely resemble the fresh-water snails 
of an English pond. 


Sir Edward Maunde Thompson has drawn my attention to the 
following extract from the Warren Hastings papers [British 
Museum. Additional MS. 29,233, f. 388] . It is a note by George 
Bogle upon the attitude he assumed toward the Tibetans and Bhu- 
tanese, and is not without interest as showing the kind of man War- 
ren Hastings selected for his important commission to Tibet. 

. . . . " I sometimes considered that the Character not only 
of the English, but of all the People of Europe depended upon me. 
This Idea, of being shown as a Specimen of my Countrymen has 
often given me a world of Uneasiness, and I dont know that I ever 
wished so heartily to have been a tall personable Man, as upon* this 
Occasion. It was some Comfort to have Mr. Hamilton with me, 
and I left it entirely to him to give a good Impression of the Per- 
sons of Fringies. But from a national and perhaps excusable van- 
ity, I was anxious also to give the People whom I visited, a favourable 
opinion of the dispositions of the English. The Hostilities in Cooch 
Beyhar had shewn them, to the Inhabitants of Bootan and Thibet, 
as a nation brave and warlike. My Business among them was meek 
and peaceful. In order to fulfill the Purpose of my Commission 1 
had to gain Confidence and to conciliate Goodwill. With this View 
I assumed the Dress of the Country, endeavoured to acquire a little of 
the language & Manners, drank a Deluge of Tea with Salt and 
Butter, eat Beetle in Bootan, took Snuff and smoked Tobacco in 
Thibet, & would never allow myself to be out of Humour. If with 
this view also I have sometimes given presents which a parsimo- 
nious Economy might have saved, and have thereby enhanced my 
Expences a few Thousand Rupees, the propriety or Impropriety of 
my Conduct may be easily appreciated, by weighing the Object that 
I aimed at against the Money which it cost me. 

" Indeed the whole of my Expences (Servants wages excepted) 
are in a Manner formed of Presents. Even the Charge of travelling 



may be included under this Head. An order of Government sup- 
plied me with Coolies Horses and Accommodations. The best 
House in every Village was allotted me for my Quarters, and the 
best provisions which the Country afforded, were prepared for my 
supper. During the five Months that I lived in the Lama's Palace, 
I had Rice, Tea, Sugar, preserved Fruits, Bread, and dried Sheeps' 
Carcases in Abundance, and the whole Expence of living, for myself 
and Mr. Hamilton, during that Time, amounts but to about forty 
Rupees. The Presents, I gave to the Bootieas, were principally 
made in Money. Those to the Inhabitants of Thibet, in Coral, 
Broad Cloth, and other Articles. The different Genius of the two 
Nations required this distinction. The Ideas of the high Class of 
People in Thibet are more refined, and they with difficulty accepted 
even of those presents from a Stranger. The Bootieas are of a more 
sordid Disposition, and receive, with little Ceremony, whatever is 
offered to them. In return I received in Bootan, besides some 
Pieces of Silk, Blankets, and other woolen Manufactures, Fruits, 
Rice, Butter in such quantities that I could have set up as a Tallow 
Chandler, and a parcell of unmatched Tanyan Horses — which have 
almost ruined me. In Thibet I received Gold Dust and Talents of 
Silver, from the Lama and his Officers, for all which, except some 
small Bulses * which I gave away in the same Manner as I got them, 
I have given Credit in my Accounts. 

" I have stated my Charges fairly. The Money which I expended 
was for the Honour of the Company, and to facilitate the Object 
which I aimed at, and thus I submit the Accounts to your Judge- 

* Bu/j^— package of diamonds or gold dust (Oxford Dictionary). 




By Captain W. F. T. O'Connor, CLE. 

Secretary and Interpreter to the Tibet Mission, now acting as 

British Agent at Gyantse 

Mr. Landon has asked me to write as an appendix to his book a 
note on Tibetan affairs, and I have consequently much pleasure in 
putting together such scraps of information as I have been able to 
collect— if only as a memento of the many pleasant days we spent 
together, at Gyantse and at Lhasa, in riding abroad together through 
the weird landscapes of this strange country. 

I would, however, premise that as yet we have only scratched the 
surface of Tibet and things Tibetan. Every day in the country, 
every individual one meets, and every manuscript one reads, all 
reveal some new trait, some bizarre superstition, something unsus- 
pected before. We can only hope that in a few years' time patient 
study may reveal some of the secrets now hidden and give us a 
wider comprehension of facts as yet only partially understood. 

The first thing that strikes a student of Tibetan administration 
and affairs in general is the marked resemblance in many points be- 
tween Tibet at the present time and Europe as it must have been dur- 
ing the Middle Ages or up to the time of the Reformation, Apart 
from the actual government by absolute monarchs the two most 
prominent characteristics in the interior economy of Europe of, say, 
the fourteenth century, were the systems of Feudalism and Monasti- 
cism. It was these two institutions which at this period spread far 
and wide over the whole of Central, Western and Southern Europe, 
and stifled by the mere fact of their existence all initiative, know- 
ledge, and spirit among the lower orders; and gave learning and 



power exclusively into the hands of a comparatively small minority 
of nobles and priests. If one opens any history of Europe relating to 
the time in question one finds numerous passages which might be 
quoted almost verbatim as applying to Tibet as we find the country 
to-day: "Amongst the various evils which oppressed and degraded 
the people .... may be mentioned two of especial prevalence 
and most baneful influence— the Feudal and Papal despotisms." 
Again : " The plebeian peasant was still a plebeian by birth, and 
few circumstances could take away the sting which aggravated his 
inferior condition .... only in the church could he rise to 
his proper rank or feel his true dignity as a man." 

Such remarks and many others of similar import might be used 
to-day to describe the conditions under which the Tibetan peasant 
now labors. Practically all the high offices of State are monopo- 
lized by men of two classes — either by a most jealous and narrow 
clique of hereditary nobles, or by dignitaries of the Yellow-Cap or 
Reformed School of the Buddhist Church. Of these hereditary 
nobles there are altogether only some twenty or thirty families, but 
in a small country like Tibet even these furnish, with their numerous 
connections and hangers-on, sufficient individuals to occupy all 
lucrative government posts from the highest almost to the lowest. 
The bulk of these great families have been ennobled by virtue of 
the blessing of having at one time or another given birth to a Dalai 
Lama or a Penchen Rinpoche. This inestimable privilege at once 
ipso facto raises the head of the fortunate family to the highest rank 
of the Tibetan peerage ; that is to say, the father or the eldest brother, 
as the case may be, immediately becomes a " king " or duke, and, in 
the latter case, the rank is hereditary, passing in direct succession 
from father to son, while large grants of land are made to support 
the dignity of the rank. In this way most of the great families have 
originated. They all possess" large estates scattered about in various 
parts of the country, but the male members almost invariably hold 
office and reside in or near Lhasa. The younger members may be 
either monks or laymen, but in any case are entitled to some small 
office, beginning generally low down on the scale as Jong-pens * or 
clerks in government offices, and rising finally to be Sha-pes, treas- 
urers, etc. 

The ecclesiastical or monk officials are selected in two ways. In 

* Captain O'Connor spells this word with a modified o (6). I have, for 
purposes of uniformity, kept to the spelling in the text. The difference is 


the first place there is a school at Lhasa for the education of young 
ecclesiastics who desire government employment. These young 
men, as remarked above, are generally but not necessarily scions of 
the great families. They are educated as boys in the conduct of 
official correspondence, the keeping of accounts, etc., and when duly 
qualified are given some small office from which they may gradually 
rise to power. They are not monks in the true sense of the word, 
and although nominally entered at one of the big monasteries as an 
In-chung or novice, they do not as a rule join their monasteries at 
all, but live at home and attend school in the city. The other class 
of ecclesiastical official is composed of monks proper, who by dint of 
force of character and intellect have risen above their compeers in 
the monastery and are selected for office owing to their proved capac- 
ity. They are in a very small minority. In the case of the lay 
officials each office is accompanied by a gift of land in lieu of salary. 
In the case of the monks, who are not supposed to value or desire 
earthly possessions, a small salary is given for their support. Thus 
it will be seen that as far as the actual administration of the country 
is concerned the governing body is solely composed of members of 
the nobility and of a few monks who have risen by force of character. 
With the latter exception men of low origin, or even of respectable 
birth, are altogether debarred from office or power. As a natural 
result of this we find that throughout the country there are two 
classes— the great landowners and the priests— which exercise each 
in its own dominion a despotic power from which there is no appeal. 
The peasant on an estate is in almost every sense a serf. He is 
bound to furnish the greater part of his agricultural produce for the 
use of his landlord, keeping only enough for the bare support of him- 
self and family. He cannot without his lord's permission leave the 
soil or the country, and he is compelled to furnish free transport and 
supplies to all official travelers or visitors — Chinese or Tibetan. 
But in spite of this state of affairs, it need not be supposed that, ad- 
ministratively, the Tibetan peasant is crushed and ground beneath a 
tyrannical yoke. In spite of the arbitrary rule of the nobles and 
officials, the country on the whole is well governed and the people 
well treated. They are not, it is true, allowed to take any liberties 
or to infringe the orders of their superiors, but as long as they con- 
fine themselves to their legitimate sphere of action, and, above all, 
abstain from political offenses, their lives are lived simply and hap- 
pily enough under a sort of patriarchal sway. The common people 
are cheerful, happy-go-lucky creatures, absurdly like the Irish in 


their ways, and sometimes even in their features. They are always 
anxious to please and thoroughly understand the art of blarney; 
they are quarrelsome but good-natured. Discipline of any descrip- 
tion is entirely remote from their conception of life, and if employed 
on any labor, they will only work as long as some European eye is 
upon them. They sing cheerily and display a deal of vigor while 
watched, but the moment they are left to themselves they gather 
under the lee of the nearest wall and spend the time in gossip and 
drinking buttered tea, for a teapot and the necessary ingredients 
invariably accompany every party of workmen, and even individuals 
when detached by themselves. They are, in fact, great children, very 
ignorant, very simple, and devoid of all idea of moral responsibility. 

The regular artificers — carpenters, painters, masohs, smiths— are 
of a better and more intelligent class. They are in their way ex- 
cellent and conscientious workmen. Brought up to their trade from 
childhood they thoroughly understand it, and will work away all day 
without any supervision whatever. Their ideas of art, furniture, 
etc., are peculiar. They are partly Chinese, partly Indian, and partly 
the product of their own bizarre imaginations. Everything in 
Tibet, in fact — dresses, houses, furniture, paintings, ornaments, 
jewelry, whatever it may be— bears the impress of a country un- 
like any other country in the world. Every Tibetan, high and low, 
is a curiosity who ought to be in a museum. His salutations, ges- 
tures, clothing, and general tout ensemble, stamp him as something 
apart from the rest of the inhabitants of the globe. Yet with all this 
they are a highly civilized race. A mere savage would never excite 
so much interest. But the civilization of Tibet, although derived 
originally from two such well-known countries as China and India, 
has been, so to speak, forced into a mold congenial to Tibetan ideas, 
and during the centuries which have elapsed since its introduction 
no outside influences have been permitted to modify or modernize 
the original conceptions as to what was right and proper. The 
ancient Mexicans and Peruvians no doubt exhibited to the Span- 
iards a somewhat similar state of affairs. They, too, were the in- 
heritors of a unique civilization, totally uninfluenced by any known 
form of European culture, which had existed among them for cen- 
turies, and had retained throughout the ages all the original peculiar- 
ities and superstitions. 

But in Tibet, besides the manners and customs peculiar to the 
country to which allusion has been made, we are confronted by the 
extraordinary spectacle of a simple agricultural people, supersti- 


tious indeed to the last degree, but devoid of any deep-rooted religious 
convictions or heart-searchings, oppressed by the most monstrous 
growth of monasticism and priest-craft which the world has ever 
seen. H-ere again comparison is invited to Europe of the Middle 
Ages : a vast number of superfluous ministers of religion were sup- 
ported in idleness and pomp. There were continual additions made 
to the various orders of monks, who, pretending to superior sanctity, 
consumed the revenues of the people. They forged innumerable 
weapons of servitude, invented degrading legends, and stimulated a 
spirit of superstition. So it is in Tibet at this moment. A very 
large proportion (estimated by some at one-fifth) of the male popu- 
lation, having embraced the monastic life, is lost to all intents and 
purposes as a practical factor in the well-being of the nation. Vast 
as was the number of superfluous monks in medieval Europe, their 
sum in Tibet is, in proportion, vaster still. Monasteries abound 
in profusion all over the whole face of the country. Every valley, 
however small, owns one at least; one or two are seen on nearly 
every hill-side. They are found in the immediate neighborhood of 
the larger towns, and are buried away in the most remote and inac- 
cessible fastnesses. Some are huge collegiate institutions, like the 
monasteries of Lhasa, Shigatse, and Gyantse, numbering on their 
rolls 3,000 to 10,000 inmates ; others are mere hermitages affording 
shelter to half a dozen of the ruling caste. But all are run upon 
much the same lines. To every monastery certain lands have been 
apportioned by the State, upon the produce of which the monks are 
to a great extent supported. These estates are occupied and farmed 
by ordinary peasants, who are in effect the serfs or servants of the 
monks, and are managed, as a rule, by lay stewards. After harvest 
the great bulk of the crop is set aside for the monastery, and the 
cultivators are allowed just enough to support themselves and their 
families until the next autumn. Very exact records are kept. Every 
measure of grain and every bundle of straw is noted and has to be ac- 
counted for. During this last harvest I have often watched these 
stewards or agents at their work. While the active operations of 
threshing and winnowing are in progress the steward will sit all 
day long beside the threshing-floor keeping a watch upon the labor- 
ers. The grain is weighed daily in his presence and the straw put 
in sacks and duly recorded, and the whole locked up in some con- 
venient storehouse and seals placed upon the openings. 

As can easily be imagined, the allotment of estates sufficiently ex- 
tensive to afford sustenance to the entire corporate body of monks 


implies the sequestration for this purpose of no inconsiderable por- 
tion of the cultivable area of Tibet. Rentals which might otherwise 
be employed in enhancing the meager revenues of the State or in fur- 
nishing a livelihood to more useful members of the community, are 
now swallowed up in the thankless office of maintaining in idleness 
a host of ignorant, pretentious sluggards. But besides this more 
legitimate source of livelihood the monks obtain yearly large sums 
both in cash and kind in return for their religious offices at births, 
deaths, marriages, and festivals. The extent of these squeezes is 
only limited by the degree of the priestly rapacity and the poverty of 
the victim. 

To comprehend in some degree the extent to which the monas- 
teries bleed the country it is only necessary to enter any one of the 
larger lamaseries, and to mark the extraordinary contrast at once 
presented by its huge, solid buildings and rich trappings as compared 
with the houses of even well-to-do people in the neighborhood. 
These latter, though generally comfortable and well built, are of an 
extreme simplicity— square, mud-walled, two-storied structures, fur- 
nished within with the plainest of household goods, and, with the 
one exception of the domestic chapel, devoid of ornament or luxury. 
The monastery presents a remarkable contrast. Here we find mas- 
sive stone buildings, their roofs often topped with gilded pinnacles 
and finials, surrounded by great flagged courtyards and a towering 
outer wall. Inside the temples are hung with silken banners and 
scrolls, and among the monastic treasures are to be found books 
and images, cloisonne enamels, china and ornaments of gold, silver, 
and ivory. There are, of course, monasteries of various degrees 
of riches. In Tashi-lhunpo, for instance, there is an overwhelming 
display of wealth. The fine tombs of the five previous Tashi Lamas 
are most richly ornamented, and contain numbers of beautiful speci- 
mens of Chinese and Tibetan art, including some finely chased 
golden cups and bowls. Even the smallest monasteries have one or 
two temples containing brass images of Buddhist gods and saints and 
a variety of ornaments, silk scrolls, illuminated missals, etc. When 
the capital outlay on these treasures is added to the yearly sum neces- 
sary to support the vast monk population, to keep the monasteries in 
repair, and to decorate the chapels, it will be apparent that the peo- 
ple of Tibet pay no light price for the privilege of being included in 
the fold of the Buddhist Church. 

But in pointing out the evils which necessarily follow in the train 
of two such abuses as feudalism and monasticism, I would neverthe- 


less emphasize the fact that the Tibetan peasant is far from being- a 
depressed or degraded type of mankind. Conditions which in mod- 
ern Europe would be considered intolerable are the natural heritage 
of the Tibetan, and he accepts them not only complacently but with 
remarkable good humor. And taking it all round, he really has not 
much to complain of. Except at the very highest elevations and in 
the bleakest and most exposed parts of the Tibetan uplands the soil 
is of a wonderful fertility. The valley from Gyantse to Shigatse 
(sixty miles by four or five), that of the Tsang-po, and the whole 
neighborhood of Lhasa, are all in summer a solid mass of beautiful 
crops. Wheat, barley, peas, mustard, are the staples, and the yield 
is in many cases fifty to sixty fold. The soil, which is alluvial, re- 
quires but little special nursing. Portions are allowed to lie fallow 
in rotation once every five years, and this precaution, combined with 
a copious supply of manure, seems to preclude the danger of ex- 
haustion. The seasons are regular, and except for occasional hail- 
storms (for which a sure preventative is provided in the shape of pro- 
fessional wizards), little is to be feared from the elements. The 
agriculturist has consequently an easy time and little anxiety as com- 
pared with his brother in the United Kingdom. The standard of 
comfort among the very poorest is high, and indeed luxurious as 
compared with that of an Irish cotter. It is no exaggeration to say 
that the average Tibetan farmer's condition of life is beyond com- 
parison better than that of the average Irish peasant. Their houses 
are larger, cleaner, and better built. Their household and agricul- 
tural implements are superior and more plentiful. They are better 
dressed and better fed. Naturally a placid and law-abiding people, 
they chafe not at all at any partiality displayed by the laws of the 
country, or on account of .their lack of political privileges. As to 
learning it is enough for them that the numerous monks should 
study the scriptures and expound the dark passages of their re- 
ligion. But in respect to ordinary education, it is surprising to find 
how many of the commonalty can read and write— far more cer- 
tainly than was the case with our own lower orders one hundred or 
even fifty years ago. In every village not only the headmen but one 
or two members of nearly every family are tolerably well educated, 
and can read and write the Tibetan running hand fluently enough.* 
This is no doubt due to a great extent to the diffusion of education 
by the monks and the teaching faculties of the larger monasteries; 
so much at least may be attributed unto them for righteousness. 
* No mean feat. I think O'Connor here also stands alone among white men. 


Tibet, in short, with some natural limitations, is a land ripe for 
enlightenment. Given some reforms in the administration of jus- 
tice, less partiality in the selection of officials, with more supervision 
on the part of the central government, a curtailment of the powers 
and numbers of the monks, the abolition of some of the privileges of 
the feudal aristocracy, and popular liberty : Tibet will then want for 
little. The beginnings of free trade and the introduction of Euro- 
pean ideas have been effected by the recent mission to Lhasa, and 
will be continued under the terms of the resulting treaty. All that 
now remains is for a Tibetan Luther to appear upon the scene ; and 
in a land so fruitful of religious reformers there would appear to be 
no good reason why a new and up-to-date reformer should not effect 
great changes, both moral and material, in his native land. 

The above notes will serve to give some sort of idea of the present- 
day conditions of life of the average Tibetan peasant. But, as al- 
ready noticed, the governing class forms a caste apart— high offices 
passing from father to son in each of the great families, and the 
subordinate members or poor relations between them monopolize 
every single post in the gift of the government. A brief sketch 
of the principal features of the Tibetan administration may be of 

The center of all authority in Tibet is situated at Lhasa, where 
reside the Dalai Lama, the four Sha-pes or ministers, and the bulk 
of the administrative officials. The head of the State is the Dalai 
Lama, known to the Tibetans as the Gyal-wa Rinpoche or Kyap-gon 
Rinpoche, meaning Precious Majesty or Protector. This personage 
is believed by the Tibetans to be the incarnation of Padma Pani 
(Avalokita* in Sanskrit, Chen-re-sik in Tibetan), as well as the in- 
heritor of the spirit of the reformer Tsong-kapa. The first Grand 
Lama was Gedun-tubpa, the nephew of Tsong-kapa, who succeeded 
his uncle as head of the new Geluk-pa, or Yellow-cap Church, in the 
year 1419. He was the first of those spiritual reflexes or incarna- 
tions, who are now so numerous throughout Tibet, and who play so 
important a part in the government and general interior economy of 
the country. The name of the present Dalai Lama is Ngak-wang 
lo-sang Tub-den gya-tso. He is the thirteenth incarnation, and is 
now thirty-one years of age. It would be tedious to attempt to 
trace the history of his predecessors. Some have been men of ener- 
getic character and high ambitions, and have* exercised great powers. 
One at least has been dissolute and was removed by order of the 
* Or Avalokiteswara. The word is equally common in either form. 


Chinese Emperor. But the majority of the Dalai Lamas have been 
mere semi-divine figureheads at the mercy of ambitious and unscru- 
pulous lay ministers ; and the natural result has followed that a large 
proportion of them have been removed from the sphere of earthly 
grandeur before they could arrive at years of discretion and take 
into their own hands the reins of temporal power. 

The present Dalai Lama, however, showed himself early in his 
career to be of a very different mettle from the bulk of his ill-fated 
predecessors. From all accounts he is a man of pronounced traits 
of character, violent temper, and stormy passions, and when quite 
a youth evinced uncomfortable symptoms of an intention to have his 
own way. Shortly after he attained his majority the then Regent — 
an incarnate abbot of one of the four Lhasa " Lings," or monas- 
teries—was accused of practising witchcraft against the sacred per- 
son of the " Protector," and was seized and thrown into prison. It 
was then conclusively proved that this arch scoundrel had concocted 
a spell, committed it to paper, and actually sewn the incriminating 
document into the sole of one of the Dalai Lama's new boots. So 
heinous an offense could not pass unpunished. The culprit, with 
several of his relations and his political faction, was interned in a 
dungeon, where he expired in less than a twelvemonth. The young 
Dalai Lama now found himself free to act in accordance with the 
dictates of his own untrammeled will. No person or party of the 
State dared for a moment to oppose him. His brief rule was sig- 
nalized by numerous proscriptions, banishments, imprisonings, and 
torturings. Neither life nor property was safe for a moment. His 
friends were raised to high honors in the State; his enemies or 
political opponents were banished and deprived of property and 
place. Among these last victims were personages no less highly 
placed than the four Sha-pes or executive ministers of the Tibetan 
Government. Cases had been known before of single ministers 
being arraigned for offenses and disgraced. Such precedents in 
fact were far from uncommon, and the overthrow of any one coun- 
cilor would have excited little surprise or even unfavorable com- 
ment. But to eradicate at one fell swoop the whole executive au- 
thority of the country was a measure rendered possible not only by 
a considerable amount of audacity, but by an authority supported 
upon a divine as well as a temporal basis. 

The above facts have been adduced merely to emphasize the al- 
most unassailable position of one of these incarnate lamas in the 
queer, topsy-turvy polity of Tibet. These incarnations are, of 


course, merely conventional, just as the symbols of Buddhist worship 
scattered broadcast throughout the country are conventions. But it 
is a conventionality which exercises an extraordinary power over the 
minds and imaginations of the simple Tibetan folk. During a 
recent visit to Shigatse I had the opportunity of visiting the second 
great incarnate Lama of Tibet (the Penchen Rinpoche of Tashi- 
Ihunpo), and I was astonished to see the very real reverence with 
which he is treated not only by pilgrims from outside but by his own 
servants and immediate entourage. But it had been different at 
Lhasa, and even an earthly manifestation of Avalokiteswara may 
carry things too far. Scandals and ill-feeling, however carefully re- 
pressed, will at length find a vent : and it was no ^oubt partly the 
storm-clouds which the young ruler felt to be gathering about him 
no less than the imminent approach of a British army which caused 
that hasty flight at midnight from the Potala. At Lhasa, under the 
shadow of the walls of the Palace, people spoke little and with bated 
breath. But at Tashi-lhunpo and Shigatse, far from the intrigues 
of Lhasa and the overwhelming influence of the three great monas- 
teries, there was less reticence, and many tales were told of the over- 
bearing ways and cruel acts of the absent Dalai Lama. 

Far different in character and general disposition is the Penchen 
Rinpoche (or, as generally called by us, the Tashi Lama) of the 
great monastery of Tashi-lhunpo near Shigatse. This prelate, as 
being the earthly manifestation of Amitabha, the spiritual father of 
Avalokita now represented by the Dalai Lama, should actually rank 
in the Buddhist world as the holier and higher of the two— and so 
he is considered by no small portion of his worshipers. At one 
time, in fact for some centuries, the Grand Lamas of Tashi-lhunpo 
not only enjoyed a high spiritual renown, but possessed in addition 
a full share of temporal power. The greater part of the large 
province of Tsang (which includes Shigatse, Gyantse, and many 
other large and flourishing towns) was under his sway, and his 
jurisdiction extended north beyond the Tsang-po and eastward to 
Lake Yam-dok. But the grasping and jealous policy of Lhasa has 
gradually deprived Tashi-lhunpo of almost all remnants of author- 
ity, and the provincial government consists now of but three small 
jongs. Confiscation of property for political offenses is a favorite 
punishment in Tibet, and the central government does not hesitate 
to apply the principle here in the case of a person so highly placed 
as the Penchen Rinpoche. But small as his kingdom is, the Lama 
still holds his court at Shigatse. Here, as at Lhasa, the Grand 


Lama has his winter and his summer residences, his prime minister, 
his treasurers, and his chamberlain, and maintains all the etiquette of 
royalty itself. Nor is the divinity which hedges royalty a matter of 
any doubt. In the case of the present Lama, at any rate, his im- 
mediate worshipers regard him with a devotion as real as it is 
touching. In the ordinary course of his frequent audiences the 
Lama, in bestowing his blessing upon a suppHcant, will but touch 
with a tassel or wand the scarf extended as an offering; but in the 
case of holy men or high officials he will touch the uncovered head 
with his fingers. This is a mark of special honor, and is also much 
esteemed as a means of grace. On the occasion of my farewell visit 
to His Holiness numerous poor women and humble persons accom- 
panied my Tibetan servants in the hope that on so propitious an 
occasion they also would receive the Sacred Touch. Nor were they 
disappointed, for the Lama graciously accorded to one and all the 
hoped-for blessing, and they departed happy. 

But the character of the young Lama (he is only two-and-twenty), 
as in the case of nearly all his predecessors, apart from the sacred 
nature of his person, is such as to inspire his followers with confi- 
dence and affection. He is universally beloved and esteemed. His 
kindness, charity, good sense, and learning are everywhere acknow- 
ledged, and I feel impelled to repeat Bogle's oft-quoted words re- 
garding his predecessor, the third Lama : " I endeavored to find 
out, in his character, those defects which are inseparable from hu- 
manity, but he is so universally beloved that I had no success, and 
not a man could find it in his heart to speak ill of him." 

These two Lamas, then, the Dalai Lama and the Penchen Rin- 
poche, are the two highest spiritual authorities in Tibet. But they 
are far from being the only ones. There are, besides, the Sakya 
hierarch, head of a sect of the Reformed Church, which differs but 
little from the Unreformed or Ancient School, and a vast number of 
other incarnate Lamas of greater or lesser degree. Some by their 
own genius or piety rise to the exercise of great spiritual authority, 
while many are practically unknown except to the inmates of some 
secluded monastery, where they pass their quiet days encompassed 
by a perpetual atmosphere of homage and devotion. Their influ- 
ence in politics is small. 

The person next in consideration to the two great Lamas of Lhasa 
and Shigatse is the Regent, or, as he is generally called by the Tibe- 
tans, the King. A Regent is appointed during the period while 
each Dalai Lama is reaching his majority (generally eighteen years). 


when the Tibetans are naturally deprived of the offices of their 
proper ruler. He is invariably an ecclesiastic and has usually been 
selected from among the higher lamas of the various small monas- 
teries scattered about in the city of Lhasa and its environs. These 
selections have not always been successful. No human being val- 
ues or covets political authority more than the Tibetan, and most 
of the Regents have found themselves so reluctant to relinquish 
the reins of power that they have actually proceeded to the extrem- 
ity of quietly doing away with their sacred ward before he arrived 
at years of discretion. Grave suspicions, amounting in one case 
to a certainty, have been aroused in previous instances. In fact, the 
present Dalai Lama is the only one for a hundre^i years who has 
reached his majority, and he took the precaution of anticipating 
any foul play on the part of the Regent by the vigorous measures 
alluded to above. 

But this same ruler, when quitting his capital lately en route 
for a foreign land, made a most excellent selection of a temporary 
Regent to officiate during his absence. The monk chosen is known 
as the Gaden Ti Rinpoche. This is really the title of an office, the 
holder of which occupies what may be described as a sort of " Di- 
vinity Chair " in the great monastery of Gaden lying some twenty 
miles east of Lhasa. The post is won by pure merit, the incumbent 
being elected by his fellows from among a number of the most 
learned professors of the Yellow-cap School of Tibetan Buddhism, 
and the holder is regarded with the greatest respect — amounting 
to veneration— by all Tibetans, monks and laymen alike. On the 
Ti Rinpoche entering a room, all, from the highest to the lowest, 
rise and uncover, and it is an honor to bow and to receive his hand 
in benediction upon the head. It is curious and almost touching, 
in this land of self-seeking and scheming politicians, to see how 
much consideration is attached to an individual who has risen solely 
through his learning and personal character, and who owes his po- 
sition to no favoritism or family influence. 

The present holder of the Divinity Chair is one of the most 
charming men it would be possible to meet in any country. He 
is an elderly man of over sixty years of age, of a perfect simplicity 
and modesty of character. That his attainments are great and his 
character above reproach is testified not only by the position he 
holds, but by the very real affection and respect displayed toward 
him by all, from the most highly-placed officials to the beggars 
in the streets. The existence of such a man is in itself a justifica- 


tion of the Buddhist Church in Tibet, and strengthens the hope 
of a possible Reformer in the near future. 

The executive powers of the Tibetan Government are vested in 
four ministers, known in the vernacular as Sha-pes, of whom three 
are generally laymen and the fourth an ecclesiastic. Of these the 
three laymen belong almost invariably to some of the great families, 
while the monk is often a self-made man. In ordinary circum- 
stances the four Sha-pes are practically, as far as the internal ad- 
ministration is concerned, the rulers of Tibet. They reside, gener- 
ally speaking, all four in Lhasa, and meet daily in a little office near 
the Jo-kang or cathedral. Hence they issue all orders to the minor 
executive officials throughout the country. The collection of the 
revenue, the posting and changing of officials, the general adminis- 
tration of justice, the levying of troops, transport, and supplies— 
orders on all these and many other matters emanate from the Coun- 
cil and are stamped with their square seal, well known to all through- 
out the length and breadth of Tibet. 

Occasionally one or other of the Sha-pes will make a tour of in- 
spection to Shigatse or Dingri, or some important frontier post, at- 
tended by a body of minor satellites, and received everywhere with 
all possible marks of respect. But by far the greater portion of 
their time is spent at Lhasa, where they find themselves sufficiently 
busy not only in the transaction of their own duties but in circum- 
venting the ceaseless plots of their rivals. I went one day while at 
Lhasa to visit their office and some of the other public offices and 
chambers. These are all situated in a range of buildings which, 
while forming a portion of the main cathedral structure, incloses 
the actual temple on three sides. Among these offices are found 
those of the Lhasa magistrates, the financial secretaries, the treas- 
urers, the Sha-pes, and the National Assembly. They are, generally 
speaking, small, untidy, ill-lighted rooms, furnished with a few cush- 
ions, whereon the officials themselves sit while transacting business, 
and with long files of papers fastened by strings in festoons across 
the low roofs. The Sha-pes' room, or council chamber, is rather 
better than the others. There are four fat cushions disposed at the 
upper end for the four ministers and smaller ones near the door 
for the clerks, while in addition to the numerous papers there is 
a small altar on one side with a few little images and the usual Bud- 
dhist paraphernalia. But the meeting-hall of the National Assem- 
bly (of which more below), where all questions of high policy are 
discussed, is the worst and untidiest den of all. This is a low-roofed. 


gloomy room, some thirty feet square, perhaps, lighted by a single 
window looking out on to the streets of Lhasa, devoid of furniture, 
fittings, or decorations of any kind — if one may except a few long 
ragged and very filthy looking cushions set out in parallel rows, 
whereon sit the members of the Assembly during their deliberations ; 
at one end, facing the window, stands a sort of raised chair or throne 
for the president— who just now is the Ti Rinpoche. Adjoining 
the main hall is a small room screened off, where the Sha-pes sit 
during a momentous debate. They are not permitted by the laws of 
the Tibetan Constitution actually to attend the meetings of the De- 
liberatiye Assembly, but they may listen from behind the screen to 
what is going, on. 

Immediately below the four Sha-pes, and forming a part of the 
Central Administration at Lhasa, come a host of lay and ecclesias- 
tical officials of varying degrees of importance. There are chief 
secretaries, treasurers, accounting officers (or secretaries to Govern- 
ment in the financial department), judges, paymasters, under-secre- 
taries, and clerks ; and among these should be included the De-pens 
or generals, who, although nominally military officers, have in 
reality almost no military duties as a rule, but occupy a high rank 
and important place in the political world. Thus there are a large 
number of officials resident at Lhasa, wlio constitute the central 
government of Tibet. Every question of the slightest importance 
must be referred sooner or later to Lhasa, and hence issue all orders 
to the provincial executive authorities, the jong-pens, or district pre- 
fects. These latter are distributed all over the country in. the various 
district headquarters or jongs, where they administer justice, collect 
the revenue, and are responsible to Lhasa for the state of their dis- 
trict. Many of these jongs are picturesque old edifices perched on 
crags or low rocky hillocks, and are often the remnants of strong- 
holds belonging to independent chieftains or brigands in the old 
days, before Tibet was united under a single administration. Some 
of these jongs at Shigatse, Gyantse, Kamba, and elsewhere, are 
really fine, imposing structures, towering several hundred feet above 
the plain and villages below ; but nowadays they are all falling into a 
state of more or less decay owing to want of proper attention and 
repair. Even so as defenses they can give a good account of them- 
selves, as was proved in the case of Gyantse. Each jong-pen has a 
number of subordinates— such as tax-gatherers, clerks, and under- 
strappers of sorts— through whom his orders are conveyed to the 
surrounding peasants. Like the majority of Tibetan officials the 


jong-pen gets little or no pay, but his perquisites are by no means 
inconsiderable. At the same time, be it understood, the average Tib- 
etan strongly objects to parting with a farthing more than he is 
obliged to, and while conforming cheerfully to the usages of long- 
established custom, he will protest most volubly should the jong-pen 
or any other official push things too far. 

Besides the regular government officers at Lhasa there are a 
large number of purely monkish officials, who are in attendance on 
the Dalai Lama, and are intrusted with various duties of a cere- 
monial or religious character. Such, for instance, are the Lord 
Chamberlain and his assistants, the private secretary, cup-bearer, 
master of the horse, and numerous others of a similar personal 
character. These monks, though not properly government servants, 
exercise nevertheless a considerable amount of influence in the State, 
and as the confidential advisers of the Dalai Lama may often direct 
the course of political events. • 

But there is one institution of high importance in the Tibetan 
constitution which has not yet been described. This is the Tsong-du, 
or National Assembly as we might call it, though it is far from 
being a representative or popular assembly according to European 
ideas. Allusion had frequently been made to this assembly in 
reports and correspondence dealing with Tibet, but it is only within 
the last two years that its real consequence as a factor in the Tibe- 
tan government has been properly estimated. The Assembly is 
of two kinds— the Greater and the Lesser Assembly. The Greater 
Assembly is composed of all government officials, lay and eccle- 
siastical, who may wish to attend, representatives from any monas- 
tery throughout Tibet, and members of any good family irrespective 
of office. The Lesser Assembly, which sits constantly when matters 
of importance are on the tapis, is composed of delegates from the 
three great Lhasa monasteries— Debung, Sera, and Gaden— and 
a certain number of the higher officials and noblemen resident in 
Lhasa. The Sha-pes, as being the direct executive instruments of 
the State, do not sit in the Tsong-du, but, as noted above, are ac- 
commodated with a small room adjoining the Assembly Hall, where 
they can listen to, but not share in, the proceedings. 

The duty of the Tsong-du is to deal with any matters of national 
importance, and with all questions, however trifling, relating to 
foreign policy. The Greater Assembly is summoned only when 
some broad guiding principle has to be decided or some momen- 
tous step (such, for instance, as a declaration of war) taken. The 


Lesser Assembly may be, and often is, in constant session. It was 
in this state during the whole period of our stay at Lhasa, and no 
doubt since the Mission first crossed the frontier at Kamba-jong. 
Its decisions are final all over Tibet. In minor matters of internal 
administration the Sha-pes have a fairly free hand; but in any 
question even remotely connected with the outside world the 
Tsong-du alone can dictate the policy to be pursued. Its leading 
lights are the abbots of the three great monasteries, and, as might 
be expected from a congregation so led, its tendencies are narrow 
in the extreme, and any liberal or forward movement meets with 
instant disapproval if not persecution. The monkish element all 
over the world has always been intolerant, narrow-minded, and at 
times cruel; the Tibetan monks are no exception to the rule. A 
national assembly guided by such stiff-necked priests will naturally 
counsel exclusion of foreign influence, and will look with horror 
upon the introduction of enlightenment or moral progress before 
which their authority will inevitably decline. Hitherto they have 
had their own way and the results are only too apparent. Tibet 
in remaining a closed land has never advanced a foot beyond the 
position she assumed one thousand years ago on the first introduc- 
tion of Buddhism and letters from Chinese and Indian sources. 
Like China, she is still the slave of worn-out customs and long- 
exploded ideas. In spite of the intelligence and natural abilities 
of the people in general, modem science and knowledge are a sealed 
book to them all, and the wisest and most revered lamas spend their 
time and waste their brains in poring over aged metaphysics and 
infantile legends translated into almost incomprehensible Tibetan 
from old Sanskrit works. Trade, invention, progfress, learning, and 
freedom have alike been stifled by this plethora of priests; and it 
is typical of the amazing ignorance even of the best-informed and 
highest-placed officials that the Tibetan government should have 
deliberately made preparations to declare war upon the greatest 
Power of the modern world with no better means of manufactur- 
ing arms than a hand-power wheel and a forge for an arsenal, under 
the superintendence of one Mohammedan blacksmith. 

There was to my mind something almost pathetic in the stubborn 
resistance made by these brave, simple peasants with their anti- 
quated muzzle-loaders, swords, and magic spells, without leaders, 
organization, training, or aptitude for war, in order to defend their 
fatherland against what they were told was the greedy advance of 
an unscrupulous enemy, eager to seize and ravage their country. 


That phase of our Mission into Tibet has now passed away. A 
treaty has been made and friendly relations established, and it re- 
mains to be seen what the effect will be of a few years of trade 
and intercourse with a civilized and sympathetic neighbor. 

W. F. T. O'Connor, 
Gyantse, 8th Dec, 1904, Capt. R.A. 



After a stay of a few weeks, marked by no incident excepting an 
attempted " a-mok " run by a fanatic monk in the camp, the ex- 
pedition left Lhasa on the 23rd of September, and after an unevent- 
ful journey returned to the Chumbi Valley and India. Colonel 
Younghusband, Mr. White, Mr. Wilton and Captain O'Connor rode 
on ahead of the main body, which was ferried across the Tsang-po 
most expeditiously by Captain Sheppard. He selected a point about 
ten miles higher up the river, and the Nabso la was used to conduct 
the force over the brim of the basin of the Yam-dok tso. No inci- 
dent occurred during the retirement of the force except a blizzard 
on the Tang la which caused a good deal of temporary snow-blind- 

Three other return expeditions were planned :— Mr. Wilton pro- 
posed to go back through Ta-chien-lu to China; Captain Ryder 
planned a descent into Assam by the banks of the hitherto unex- 
plored Tsang-po; and eventually Captains Ryder, Rawlings and 
Wood, and Lieutenant Bailey were detailed for a surveying excur- 
sion to Gartok, far along the road to Leh, one of the places at which 
a trade market was to be established. 

For different reasons the third was the only expedition which 
was actually carried out. I take the following brief account of their 
journey from the Times. Captain O'Connor also makes some refer- 
ence in his " Political Notes " to the Tashi Lama, with whom he 
had repeated conversations. He did not accompany Captain Ryder 
beyond Tashi-lhunpo. 

" The Gartok party, consisting of Captain Rawlings and his com- 
panions, and accompanied by Captain O'Connor, whose researches 
in Tibet during the past few years have been so frequently described 
in the Blue-book, left Gyantse on October loth, and arrived at Shi- 



gatse in three days, after what is described as a delightful jour- 
ney through richly cultivated and highly irrigated valleys. Villages 
lay dotted thickly over the slopes, every house and hamlet being 
surrounded with trees. The harvest had been very good and was 
being got in, and affairs looked prosperous in this part of Tibet. 
On nearing Shigatse the British officers were met by a deputation 
of lamas and laymen, who extended to them a cordial welcome and 
entertained them with refreshments laid out in tents by the roadside. 
The streets of the town were filled with large crowds, who gazed 
with much surprise at the first Europeans seen at Shigatse since 
Turner's visit 120 years ago. The Tibetan Government, on receiv- 
ing notice of the setting out of the Mission, had relays of ponies 
and mules and also coolies, prepared at all the towns and post-sta- 
tions along the road from the Ladak frontier to Lhasa. 

" The reception of the Englishmen was of a pleasing character. 
The officials could not have been more courteous or hospitable and 
the populace were most friendly. The two parties were lodged in 
a nobleman's garden, and Captain Steen, of the Indian Medical 
Service, was called upon to minister, from morning* till late at night, 
to the sick of Shigatse and the surrounding parts. Rich and poor 
are said to have sought his good offices, the fame of Captain Wal- 
ton's skill at Lhasa having spread far and wide. The British officers 
describe the monastery of Tashi-lhunpo as far finer than anything 
at Lhasa, its circumference being two miles. Turner says it is a 
large monastery consisting of three or four hundred houses, the 
habitations of the Gylongs, besides temples, mausolea, and the 
palace of the Sovereign Pontiff, in which is comprised also the resi- 
dence of the Regent and of all the subordinate officers, both eccle- 
siastical and civil. Its buildings are all of stone, none less than two 
storeys high, flat-roofed, and crowned with parapets. 

" On October i6th Captain O'Connor, accompanied by all the 
Europeans, paid an official visit to the Tashi Lama, who is at present, 
by virtue of the decree of the Emperor of China, the head of all 
the Churches owning the supremacy of the Dalai Lama. The Tashi 
Lama is a young man of twenty-three years of age, with a pleasing 
address and owning the reputation of being both pious and able. He 
received the Englishmen with respect and regard, and impressed his 
visitors most favourably. On the night of their arrival the lamasery 
was brilliantly illuminated in memory of some great Lama of the 
past, and, curiously enough, this date coincided with the date of 
Captain Turner's arrival, October 13th, 1783, a fact considered by 


the Lamas to be especially propitious. The monastery contained 
some wonderful tombs and was far more richly decorated than any 
of those of Lhasa. Here Captain O'Connor separated from his 
friends and returned to Gyantse, while Captains Ryder, Wood, and 
Rawlings, and Lieutenant Bailey continued their long and interest- 
ing journey to Gartok." 

The last news of the party is that after a pleasant but monotonous 
journey beside the Tsang-po to Gartok, its members returned in 
the first week of this year to Simla, having crossed from Tibet to 
India over the Shipki pass. 


The following is, I believe, a complete list of the officers, civil and 
military, of the Mission who actually reached Lhasa. I am indebted 
to Major Iggulden for it. 


Colonel Francis E. Younghusband, CLE. 

Mr. J. Claude White, Political Officer of Sikkim (Deputy-Com- 
missioner) . 

Mr. E. C. Wilton, Chinese Consular Service (Deputy-Commis- 
sioner) . 

Capt. W. F. T. O'Connor (Secretary and Interpreter). 

Capt. H. J. Walton, LM.S. (Medical Officer and Naturalist). 

Mr. H. H. Hayden (Geologist). 

Mr. Vernon Magniac (Private Secretary to the Commissioner). 


Brig.-General J. R. L. Macdonald, C.B., R.E. 

Major H. A. Iggulden, Chief Staff Officer. 

Lieut.-Col. L. A. Waddell, CLE., P.M.O. 

Major W. G. L. Beynon, D.S.O. 

Major A. Mullaly. 

Major McC Ray (Intelligence branch). 

Capt. J. O'B. Minogue. 

Capt. C A. Elliott, R.E. 

Lieut. B. H. Bignell. 

Lieut.-Col. E. H. Cooper, D.S.O., Royal Fusiliers. 

" F. Campbell, D.S.O., 40th Pathans. 

" M. A. Kerr, 8th Gurkhas. 
" " H. R. Brander, 32nd Pioneers. 



Major R. W. Fuller, R.G.A. 
" A. R. Row, 8th Gurkhas. 
" F. Murray, 8th Gurkhas. 
" F. H. Peterson, D.S.O., 32nd Pioneers. 
" A. Wallace Dunlop, 23rd Pioneers. 




Capt. S. F. Legge, Royal Fusiliers. 
" C. V. Johnson, Royal Fusiliers. 
" C. H. Peterson, 46th Punjabis (M.I.). 
" J. B. Bell, 32nd Pioneers. 

F. A. Easton, R.G.A. 
J. R. Maclachlan, 40th Pathans. 
S. H. Sheppard, D.S.O., R.E. 
L. H. Baldwin, 8th Gurkhas. 

G. J. S. Ward, 8th Gurkhas. 

F. E. Coningham, 12th Pathans, att. 40th Pathans. 

G. A. Preston, 40th Pathans. 
C. Bliss, 8th Gurkhas. 
H. F. Cooke, 32nd Pioneers. 
W. J. Ottley, 23rd Pioneers (M.I). 
H. M. Souter, 14th B.L. (M.I.). 
J. L. Fisher, Royal Fusiliers. 

C. A. H. Palairet, Royal Fusiliers. 

D. W. H. Humphreys, 8th Gurkhas. 



Lieut. H. V. L. Rybot, att. 23rd Pioneers. 

" G. C. Hodgson, 32nd Pioneers. 

" L. A. Hadow, Norfolk Regiment. 

" R. N. Macpherson, 40th Pathans. 

" J. D. Grant, 8th Gurkhas. 

*.* L. G. Hart, 8th Gurkhas. 

" E. H. Lynch, 8th Gurkhas (Treasure Chest Officer). 

" W. G. T. Currie, 40th Pathans. 

" G. A. Yates, R.G.A. 

" C. C. Marindin, R.G.A. 

" A. C. S. Chichester, Royal Fusiliers. 

" L. A. Bethell, 8th Gurkhas. 

" A. D. Walker, R.E. 


Lieut. W. A. B. Daniell, Royal Fusiliers. 

" W. P. Bennett, R.G.A. 

" F. Skipwith, 24th Punjabis (M.I.)- 

" F. E. Spencer, R.GA. 

" H. G. Boone, R.G.A. 

" J. F. S. D. Coleridge, 8th Gurkhas. 

" T. de B. Carey, Royal Fusiliers. 

" H. St. G. H. Harvey Kelly, 32nd Pioneers. 

" E. Marsden, 32nd Pioneers. 

" F. M. Bailey, 32nd Pioneers (M.I.). 

" J. C. Bourn Colthurst, Royal Irish Rifles. 

" H. F. Collingridge, 9th Gurkhas. 


Major C. N. C. Wimberley, I.M.S. 
Capt. C. W. Mainprise, R.A.M.C. 

" W. H. Ogilvie, I.M.S. 

" E. P. Conolly, R.A.M.C. 

" T. B. Kelly, I.M.S. 

" W. H. Leonard, I.M.S. 

" A. Cook-Young, I.M.S. 
Lieut. G. D. Franklin, I.M.S. 

" G. J. Davys, I.M.S. 


Capt. C. H. D. Ryder, R.E. ) Officers in charge of the 
Capt. H. M. Cowie, R.E. I Survey. 

« ^ '» « -i.TT% " a« " 


Capt. C. H. G. Moore. 
" R. C. Moore, A.V.D. 
" A. P. D. C. Stuart. 
" J. B. Pollock Morris. 
" F. T. T. Moore. 


Capt. F. G. Ross. 
" M. Synge. 

" O. St. J. Skeenc. 


Times, Mr. Perceval Landon. 

Daily Telegraph and Pioneer, Mr. C. B. Bayley. 

Daily Mail, Mr. Edmund Candler. 

" Reuter," Mr. Henry Newman. 

The force which moved to Lhasa from Gyantse was composed 
as follows: 

Head-quarters Staff. 

Six guns of the 7th M.B. (lo-pr.). 

Two guns of the 30th M.B. (7-pr.). 

5^ company, 3rd Sappers. 

Mounted Infantry (2 cos.). 

Royal Fusiliers, H.Q. and 4 cos. 

32nd Pioneers, H.Q. and 4 cos. 

40th Pathans, H.Q. and 6 cos. 

8th Gurkhas, H.Q. and 6 cos. 

Section British Field Hospital. 

2j/$ Sections Native F.H. 

Transport taken from the 7th, 9th, loth and 12th Mule Corps. 

The 23rd Pioneers were left behind at Gyantse, greatly to the 
regret of the members of the Mission, with which they had been 
connected for so long. 


British Officers ....*.... 4 ••» . Qt 

British Warrant Officers II 

British N.C.O. and men 521 



Native Officers , 32 

Native Warrant Officers 5 

Native N.C.O. and men 1,961 

Followers 1,450 

Mules and ponies 3,45i 



The three following tales are characteristic of Tibetan folk-lore, 
and it is interesting to note how similar they are to those of Europe. 
It is difficult, however, to see how any external influence can have 
been brought to bear upon them, as there are almost no Chinese 
or other foreign women in the country : 


Once upon a time a Lizard and his family lived in a lake by the 
side of a great forest in Tibet. Now there was not much to eat 
in the lake, and after a while Mrs. Lizard gaid to her husband: 
" I see on the shore a tree with beautiful fruits upon it ; if you 
really cared about me and the children, you would go ashore and 
climb the tree and bring us back some of the beautiful fruits, that 
we may not all starve." 

And the Lizard said : " My dear, you know that I cannot climb 
a tree, so why should I go ashore to try to do that which you know 
is impossible ? " 

But Mrs. Lizard kept on day after day saying that he did not 
really care about her and the children, or he would go ashore and 
climb the tree and bring back the beautiful fruits for her and the 
little Lizards. 

So at last the Lizard was weary of what his wife said to him day 
after day, and swam ashore and tried to climb the tree. 

Now you know a Lizard cannot climb a tree.* 

But there was up in the branches of the tree a Monkey, and to 

* This is the Tibetan story : I should have thought that there was nothing 
on earth that the big Tibetan lizards could not climb. 



him the climbing of a tree is the easiest thing in the world. And he 
was a clever Monkey, and having made the Lizard very grateful to 
him, by picking for him the beautiful fruits on the tree, he struck up 
a friendship with the Lizard and persuaded him to leave his wife 
and come and live with him in a cave. So there they lived, and the 
Lizard forgot all about Mrs. Lizard and the children, and remained 
in the cave eating the beautiful fruits of the tree. 

Now after a while Mrs, Lizard began to think that something 
had happened to the Lizard, and at last, after long hesitation, she 
sent one of her little children to see what had happened to father 
Lizard. So the little Lizard went ashore, and spied out to see what 
had happened to father Lizard who had been away for such a long 
time. And for a long time he could see nothing of any one, but 
toward evening he saw father Lizard come out of the cave with the 
Monkey and go to the tree. And then the Monkey ran up the tree 
and picked the beautiful fruits and threw them down, and the Lizard 
carried them into the cave, and that was all he saw. 

So he swam back to his mother and told her, and she was very 
angry, for there was nothing to eat for herself and the children, and 
now she knew that her husband was living in a cave in the forest 
and eating plentifully with a Monkey, and forgetting all about his 
wife and children. 

So she sent the little Lizard once again, and she said to him : 

" Go to the cave from which you saw your father come out and 
call to him, and when he comes out to you, take him aside, and say 
to him, ' Mother Lizard is sick unto death.' And say no more then. 
And when he says to you, ' What is the matter ? How can she be 
cured ? ' then say to him, ' Only one remedy there is.' And then say 
no more to him. And when he shall say to you, ' What is the rem- 
edy ? ' then you shall say, ' There is only one thing which can cure 
her, and that is a piece of a monkey's heart.' " 

So the little Lizard did as he was told, and went on shore, and 
called out for his father, and said to him as his mother had told him ; 
and he said : " There is only one thing which can cure her, and that 
is a piece of a monkey's heart." 

When he heard that he was sorely frightened, and remembered 
all about his wife and the children, and he did not know what to do. 
But at last when he had again and again asked his son, and his son 
had again and again answered, " There is only one thing which can 
cure her, and that is a piece of a monkey's heart," he determined to 
do as his wife asked. 


So he went back to the cave, and asked the Monkey to come with 
him to his own home in the lake, and he offered to carry him on his 
back. And the Monkey said that he would come and pay a visit to 
the Lizard's home, and because he could not swim he said he would 
be very glad to be carried on the Lizard's back. 

So they started, and the Lizard was carrying the Monkey across 
the lake on his back. And the Monkey asked about Mrs. Lizard, 
and the children, and how she was. And the Lizard, who was not 
very clever, told him all that his son had said, and even that Mrs. 
Lizard could only be cured by a piece of a monkey's heart. 

Now when he heard this the Monkey was very much frightened, 
and he wondered what he ought to do, for he said: "There is no 
doubt that the Lizards are going to kill me and take my heart to cure 
Mrs. Lizard with." So he said to the Lizard : " I know all about 
this cure. You are quite right, a monkey's heart is the only thing 
that can cure Mrs. Lizard, and, indeed, if we cannot get the remedy, 
she will surely die. But if she is very ill, one monkey's heart is not 
enough ; she must have two monkey's hearts, or she will surely die." 

Now in order to bring her husband back to her, Mrs. Lizard had 
told her son to say that she was very ill indeed, and the Lizard 
stopped swimming in the middle of the water, and said : " What 
ought we to do ? " 

Then the Monkey said : " I have a capital plan. I know where I 
can get for Mrs. Lizard two monkey's hearts, and then we will bring 
them back to her and she will recover. Put me on shore again, and 
I will get them for you at once." So the Lizard, who was not a 
very clever Lizard, believed all that the Monkey told him, and car- 
ried the Monkey back to shore on his back. 

Then the Monkey climbed very quickly up into the tree, and said 
to the Lizard : " Lizard, what a foolish Lizard, even for a Lizard 
you must be. Did you really think that I was going to find you 
another monkey for you to kill as well as myself, in order that your 
ugly wife might recover? It would be a good thing if she were to 
die— ugly thing. Truly, you must be a very foolish Lizard." 

Then the Lizard saw that he had been outwitted, and he became 
very angry, and determined to kill the Monkey after all. But he 
could not reach up to the Monkey, and he could not climb a tree. 
So the Monkey continued to revile the Lizard, who had repaid his 
kindness so unkindly, and it became night. 

And the Lizard, when it became night, said to himself: "I will 
go away, as if I were going back to the lake, but I will really go to 


the cave, and when the Monkey comes down and goes back to his 
cave, I will spring upon him and kill him." And so the Lizard went 
back to the cave and thought that he was doing a very clever thing. 

But the Monkey was a clever Monkey, and when at last it was 
quite dark, and he could see nothing, he came down from the tree, 
and cautiously went to his cave. Now he did not know anything 
about what the Lizard had done, but he suspected that he might be 
planning some treachery; so when he came about ten yards from 
the mouth of the cave he stopped, and called aloud : 

" Oh, Great Cave ! Oh, Great Cave ! " And then he listened for 
awhile, and said out very loud : " It is very strange, there must be 
some one in the cave, for there is no echo to-night." Now there 
never was really any echo at all. 

And the Lizard heard what he said, and after a while, when the 
Monkey called out aloud again, " Oh, Great Cave ! Oh, Great 
Cave ! " the Lizard answered him : " Oh, Great Cave ! Oh, Great 
Cave ! " So the Monkey knew that the Lizard was laying a trap for 
him, and he ran away jeering at the silly Lizard. 

So the Lizard returned to Mrs. Lizard in the lake. 



Once upon a time there was in Tibet a poor woman and she had 
two sons, and one of them was proud and the other one was humble. 
And the proud son took unto himself a wife, and he said to his 
mother : " There is no more room for you in the house, you must go 
away and get another shelter. I will have you no longer." And to 
his brother he said the same thing, so the mother and the humble 
son were driven forth and lived as best they could while the proud 
brother and his wife lived in comfort and luxury. 

And after a long time it came to pass that the humble brother 
went a-gathering sticks over the hillside, for it was very cold and 
the old mother needed a fire. And as he went along he found a few 
sticks here and there, and at last he came to a Stone Lion sitting on 
the hillside. 

And the Lion said to him: "Do not be afraid, but go fetch a 
bucket, and bring it here." And he brought a bucket, and the Lion 
said to him : " Hold it beneath my mouth " ; and the man did so. 
And the Lion said : " Take care that not a piece of gold fall to the 


ground," and as he spoke he let fall from his mouth a stream of 
pieces of gold until the bucket was nearly full. 

So the humble brother went away thankfully to his mother, and 
they two lived in peace and contentment for a long time. 

But at last the proud brother began to hear of the comfort of his 
mother and brother, and was exceedingly jealous. So he went to 
where they were living and found that it was true, and his jealousy 
knew no bounds. And he said to his brother : " Brother, how came 
you by all these riches? Tell me, that I also may receive much 
money." And the younger brother told him at once, saying, " On 
such a hill you will find a Lion made of stone. Be not afraid, but go 
to him and ask him to fill a bucket with gold pieces for you also, and 
he will do so." 

So the proud brother hasted and took the largest bucket that was 
in his house, and went as fast as the wind to the place that his brother 
had told him. And he found the Stone Lion, and the Lion, though 
unwilling, said to him just what he had said to the other brother, and 
the heart of the proud brother was exceeding glad, and he hasted 
and set underneath the great bucket, and the gold pieces dropped 
from the Lion's mouth even as his brother had said. And he said 
to himself : " I was a wise man to bring a great bucket, and I will 
see that it is well filled indeed." So he let the Lion drop gold into 
the great bucket until it rose in a heap in the middle over and above 
the brim. And then there fell just one gold piece too many, and it 
slipped upon the heap and ran over on to the ground. And the 
proud brother looked up, and saw that the finest and greatest lump of 
the whole was stuck in the jaws of the Lion, and he put out his 
hand into the Lion's jaws, and tried to take it, but the Lion's jaws 
shut tight upon his arm, and he remained caught ; and he cried out 
a great deal, but no one could help him to get free. 

And there he remained for many years, while at home his wife 
and children became very poor and everything in the house was 
spoiled or stolen. Still the proud brother could not get his arm out 
of the mouth of the Stone Lion. 

Then, after many years, his wife came weeping to the Stone Lion 
and told him how all the house was ruined because her husband was 
still being held by the arm, and the Lion laughed to himself as he 
heard. And the wife went on with her sad tale, and the Lion was 
more and more glad, until at last he could not help opening his 
mouth and chuckling. And at once the proud brother pulled his 
arm away out of the Stone Lion's mouth and became free again. 


But he had lost all his money, and from that day he was only able 
to beg his livelihood at the street corners, while his mother and his 
brother lived in comfort and luxury in their own house. 



Once upon a time there was a Boy with a deformed head, and 
as soon as he was born, his father said that he was so ugly that he 
would never get any one to marry him, and so it happened. For no 
one would speak to him, and at last he went away by himself sadly, 
and kept cattle, and never saw the face of a man or a woman for a 
long time. Then there happened to him a strange thing. One day 
he was tending his herds by the side of a great lake, and a white 
drake came down from the sky toward him and settled upon the 
surface of the lake. And the bird swam three times all round the 
lake to the right, and three times all round the lake to the left, and 
after that the Boy caught the drake. 

And the bird struggled to get away, but the Boy held him fast, and 
at last the drake told the Boy who he really was. Now the drake 
was no other than the King of the Fairies, and he promised to give 
the Boy any one of his three daughters to wife if only he would re- 
lease him. And the Boy consented, and chose the daughter that was 
neither the eldest nor the youngest, but the middle one. So the 
drake flew away. 

Then after a little time, the middle daughter of the Fairy King ap- 
peared, most beautifully dressed, and in her hand she carried jewels 
of priceless value. So the two were married, though the Fairy 
King's daughter foretold to her husband that she would be able to 
remain with him only nine years. 

So for nine years everything went as happily as it could, and 
everything that the Boy wished to have was at once there ready for 
him, palaces and cattle and servants and silks and jewels. And he 
almost forgot that there had once been a time when no one would 
speak to him for his very ugliness. 

But at the end of the nine years, the fairy princess vanished with- 
out warning, and with her vanished also all the palaces and cattle 
and servants and silks and jewels. So the Boy was heartbroken, 
and he went out to search throughout all the land for the princess, 
but he found her nowhere. Still he went on searching, and as he 


wandered he came one day to the side of a great lake, and it was the 
place where he had first seen the drake and won his bride nine years 

And as he stayed to look he saw a huge nest in the rushes by the 
side of the lake, and he knew at once what it was. For there is 
nothing like the nest of a Gryphon in the world. Luckily for the 
Boy the big birds were away and only the young ones were in the 
nest, for the Gryphon eats a man at a single meal. And as he looked 
in terror lest the parent birds should return, there came up out of the 
lake a Dragon, and he crawled toward the nest to eat up the young 
Gryphons. Then the Boy ran toward the nest and fought with the 
Dragon, and at last toward night he killed it ; and just then the par- 
ent Gryphons came home; and they saw the nest and the dead 
Dragon, and they could not thank the Boy enough who had saved 
their young ones from the Dragon. 

Then the Boy told them all his sad story, and asked the Gryphons 
if they would help him, and they said that they would. So the Boy 
sat upon the back of the male Gryphon, and the Gryphon flew away 
with him up into the air for a long, long way until at last they 
reached the kingdom of the fairies. And they went into the king- 

Now if there is one thing which the fairies and the gods cannot 
abide it is the sight of a mortal in their kingdom, so they all called 
out to him that he must go. But he said : " I will not go except my 
wife come with me." And they all called out upon his boldness and 
foolhardiness, and told him that he was but a mortal and might never 
again mate with a fairy. But he held his ground and said, again 
and again, " I will not go except my wife come with me." And the 
fairies and the gods wearied themselves in crying out against him, 
but always he said the same thing and retreated not an inch. 

So at last, in despair, the King of the Fairies (for he found that 
his middle daughter after all was glad at the thought that she would 
go back again and be the Boy's wife, although he was so ugly) said 
to her : " Go, then, with him, and never again show yourself here." 
And blithely then she went away with the Boy on the back of the 
Gryphon, and returned to the Boy's country, and there they lived 
happily ever afterwards. 



1. The origin of the name Tibet is phonetically curious. The 
inhabitants of the country spell its name " Bod." This, in accord- 
ance with the recognized rules of Tibetan pronunciation, they pro- 
nounce "Peu" (as in French, but with a phantom "d"). "Up- 
per " in Tibetan is " Stod," which, for similar reasons, is pronounced 
" Teu." " Upper Tibet " as opposed to the lower districts to the 
north, east and west of Lhasa, is about conterminous with what we 
regard as Central Tibet. The pronunciation of "Teu-peu(d) " was 
crisped on the Darjeeling frontier into "Tibet," and thus became 
known to Europeans in this form. 

The Chinese name for Lhasa is " Tsang." The two provinces of 
U (Lhasa) and Tsahg (Tashi-lhunpo) are distinguished by them 
as Chien-tsang and Hou-tsang respectively. 

2. Lhasa lies in N. latitude 29° 39' 16", and in E. longitude 
(Greenwich) 90° 57' 13". Its height above the sea is approxi- 
mately 12,900 in feet. 

3. I cannot refrain from inserting the following remark of a 
Chinese historian named Masu. In the I-shih, a work upon the 
Chinese empire in 160 books, he says, in reference to the fauna and 
flora of this country, " There is in Tibet a plant which flies. It re- 
sembles a dog in shape, its color is like tortoise-shell, and it is very 
tame. If lions or elephants see it they are frightened: hence it is 
the king of beasts." If there is really anything in the theory of the 
transmigration of souls, it is clear that Miss Sybil Corbet must have 
inherited that of Masu. 

4. One of the earliest kings of Lhasa, it' is interesting to note, 
was a practical socialist. Muni-tsanpo three times redistributed the 



wealth of the country among its inhabitants, and three times he 
found it useless. The rich became richer, the poor even poorer, so 
he abandoned the scheme. 

5. The names of MM. Tsybikoff and Norzunoff deserve to be 
mentioned in connection with Russia's policy of expansion in Tibet. 
The former is a Buriat of Trans-Baikalia who has visited Lhasa as 
the personal friend of Dorjieff. He took a series of good photo- 
graphic views which have been published by the Russian Geograph- 
ical Society. The latter is chiefly known for an unsuccessful at- 
tempt to join his colleague Dorjieff by crossing the frontier from 
Darjeeling. Neither of these men is of much political importance. 

6. As illustrative of the influence which the Dalai Lama has over 
his present asylum, Urga, it is worth while to draw attention to the 
following story told by Sven Hedin. Some monk there had offended 
the Grand Lama of Lhasa, and twice the wretched man was com- 
pelled to make the journey from Urga to Lhasa— a three months' 
posting journey at the quickest— m/>ow his knees. Then he was 
again compelled to perform the same penance only to find the Dalai 
Lama unrelenting, and the doors of the Sacred City shut upon him. 

7. I append a rough translation of the extract from the Odyssey, 
which I have placed on the title-page. The coincidence is worth 
quoting : 

" Over the tides of Ocean on they pressed, 

On past the great White Rock beside the stream, 
On, till through God's high bastions east and west, 
They reached the plains with pale-starred iris dressed, 
And found at last the folk of whom men dream." 

The Arabian Sea, Ta-karpo, the Himalayas, Gyantse, and the 
Lhasans seem prophesied here clearly enough. 

8. In a blacksmith's shop in Phari, I found a man-trap very 
similar in construction to those but recently obsolete in England. 
The jaws were armed with the teeth of some huge fish, and the 
spring was provided by a strong yak-hair rope. The punishment's 
inflicted by the Tibetans are abominably cruel. The wretched men 
attached to the Mission who were caught in Gyantse on the night of 
the 4th of May, were cut to pieces slowly in the " alternate " method, 


and during the stay of the Mission at Kamba-jong an unhappy 
woman, convicted or suspected of adultery, had her nose and Hps 
sUt, and was afterward flogged to death. In a country where moral- 
ity is of the loosest, this was simply inhuman. It is a Tibetan, not 
a Chinese custom. The " alternate " mutilation is of course Chi- 
nese also. 

9. On the 1 6th of February I went for a two-day excursion with 
Major Ray down the valley of the Ammo chu. After a difficult 
climb through the rhododendron jungle nine or ten miles below 
Rinchengong we encamped across the Bhutanese frontier — which is 
here delimited by the clearly defined line of bamboo growth — in a 
" dmo " accouchement clearing in the bamboos, named Bolka. Un- 
fortunately, in returning for the mules which were unable to climb 
further, Ray slipped in the darkness, and fell down the khud. He 
hurt his arm severely, and on the next day when we moved to the 
precipitous cliff of the De chu, he was not able to climb down, and 
we yielded to the protests of our servants. The head of the gorge 
lay immediately to the south of us, and from where we were we 
could see the extreme difficulty which would attend any attempt to 
carry the road from India through this locality at the level of the 
Ammo chu. 

10. The Aryan foot is high in the instep, and the big toe projects 
from the others. The Tibetan foot is flat on the ground from end 
to end, and has three equally projecting toes which give a foot-print 
that is unmistakable. It is as square cornered as a brick, except that 
the heel is narrow. 

11. The coldest temperatures we experienced were in January 
and February near the Tang la. At Chu-gya the thermometer was 
once observed to go down to 27° below zero (Fahrenheit), but there 
can be no doubt that had there been the means of taking regular 
records at this spot, this depth would often have been exceeded. The 
average temperature nightly at Phari was about —10° during Jan- 
uary. The bitter wind over the Tang la of course made the suffer- 
ings of the troops infinitely greater, though the dryness of the air 
no doubt saved us from feeling the full effects of the frost. 

12. The rarefaction of the air caused several curious phenomena. 
The sighting of our rifles on the back-sight was of course entirely 


thrown out. A 1,350 range was correctly sighted at 1,050 during 
our stay at Gyantse (13,000 feet). At 15,000 feet the fusee springs 
of the Maxim had to be reduced from a seven and a half pound " pull " 
to four or even three and three-quarters. I have in the book re- 
ferred to the action of the time fuses of shells at 17,000 feet. The 
Maxim water-jacket was of course merely a source of trouble until 
some one hit upon the device of filling it with a mixture of rum and 
water. Lubrication was also a trouble. The only safe course was 
found to be a thorough cleaning away of every speck of oil, and a 
substitution of black-lead. 

In other directions also there was difficulty. Water boiled at 
about 180°, and as a result only Mussoor dal (lentils) would cook 
properly. Arhar, Moong or Chenna dal was alike useless. Wounds 
or scratches took an abnormal time to heal, owing to the oxygenless 
state of the air. Colonel Waddell did indeed try to obtain cylinders 
of oxygen for certain medical purposes, but they were found to be 
impossible of transport. Incidentally it may be remarked that for 
the same reason " instras "—of which the force took»up a large num- 
ber — failed to keep alight, to our great disappointment. 

13. Heaven, to the Tibetan, is a vast structure composed of 
precious stones laid vertically, not horizontally, as in the Revelation. 
The north is gold, the east, white crystal, the south, Indranila, the 
west, Pemaraga or ruby. The colors therefore differ somewhat 
from the recognized Hindu distribution of colors to the quarters, of 
which the P. and O. houseflag is the best illustration. 

14. The medical profession in Tibet is based exclusively upon 
Chinese practice. This is one of the puzzles of the East. It is 
naturally a matter of superstition and tradition alone, neither re- 
search nor the first requirements of cleanliness are used by the profes- 
sion. The medicines they employ are in many cases grotesque, 
powdered lizards, dragon's blood, dry yellow dust, professing to be 
the remains of the Guru Rinpoche or some other distinguished 
teacher, the tiny powdered scrapings from a cup-mark, scraps of 
Daphne paper with charms printed upon them; all these are taken 
internally. Captain Walton, the surgeon of the Mission, tells me 
that the Tibetans responded willingly and gratefully to his invita- 
tions, and as he expressed it himself, if the expedition has done 
nothing else It has certainly improved the looks of no small number 
of the good people of Tibet; six or seven hundred cases in all of 


harelip or cataract must have been treated by him alone.* The 
Amchi, or doctor, is a man greatly respected in Tibet. It was in 
this disguise that Manning was able to enter Lhasa, and the records 
of the Capuchins betray the fact that their services were in vastly 
greater request as physicians of the body than of the soul. 

15. The brilliancy of the moonlight in Tibet was beyond all con- 

16. There is some little difficulty about the wording of the in- 
scription on the Do-ring. In the journal of the Royal Asiatic So- 
ciety, Vol. XII. N.S., a rubbing and a translation are given by Dr. 
Bushell, of which I have incorporated the latter in the text. 

It is at once clear that the rubbing was not made from the Do-ring. 
The proportionate width of the rubbing to the length is about as 6 to 
2$. That of the Do-ring is about 2 to 3. Further, in the rubbing, 
the Tibetan and the Chinese versions are side by side in vertical 
columns. On the Do-ring the Chinese version fills the eastern face, 
the Tibetan the western. It is possible that the rubbing is taken 
from the duplicate copy of the lettering on the Do-ring which exists 
in the Amban's residence. In that case it is difficult to see how the 
four cup-marks on it have been caused, but the fact seems probable. 

It is clear from the wording of the treaty in the rubbing that 
it was made at a time when " Te-chih-li-tsan " was reigning in 
Tibet, not " Koli-kotsu." Now Chilitsan (the " Te " is merely an 
official prefix— see Ti Rinpoche), or " Ralpachan," was reigning 
in 783 and " Koli-kotsu " or " Yi-tai " reigning in 822. It is there- 
fore clear that this particular treaty dates from 783, not— as Dr. 
Bushell surmises— from 822. 

But I have no doubt that there were at one time two treaties re- 
corded on slabs outside the Jo-kang. Masu— who may be more ac- 
curate in archaeology than he is in natural history— definitely states 
that there were two, both of the Tang period— one called Te-tsang, 
the other called Mu-tsang. These are the names, and this state- 
ment tallies with the dates, of the two emperors who in 783 and 
822 made two distinct treaties with Tibet. Masu goes on to say 
that Mu-tsang is gone and only Te-tsang remains. If this be so, 
the Do-ring dates from 783 and the rubbing of Dr. Bushell must 

*I remember his grimly speculating one day, during our bombardment in 
Gyantse, as to what his late patients must be doing who ran away from under 
-his charge before the stitches had been taken out. 


have been taken from some authentic copy, probably that kept at 
the Chinese Residency, for it is clear that the text of the rubbing 
refers to 783. 

17. Further examination of the case of Moorcroft merely in- 
creases the mystery. It seems that every foreigner connected with 
the matter was put away. It is difficult to suppose that Moorcroft 
himself, Trebeck, Guthrie — a native assistant of Moorcroft's— and 
Mir Izzat Allah, a confidential servant, all died within a year by a 
mere series of coincidences. No one was with Moorcroft when he 
was reported to be killed. Trebeck never saw the body which was 
interred at Balkh; it was probably frightfully decomposed by this 

The story I have referred to in the first volume was corroborated 
and given to Hue in a more detailed form by Nisan himself, Moor- 
croft's servant, in Lhasa, eight years after it had occurred, and he 
there added a fact which seems to destroy the only obvious recon- 
ciliation of the opposing versions of Moorcroft's death. It will at 
once occur to any one who studies the matter that Moorcroft's papers 
and effects might have been looted by a Kashmiri traveling to Lhasa, 
and that the whole story may have arisen from a discovery of this 
loot in the Kashmiri's kit when he was himself murdered on his 
return journey. 

But Nisan's statement was direct that Moorcroft, before leaving 
Lhasa, gave him a " chit " or letter of recommendation to some one 
unknown in Calcutta. The letter was written in English charac- 
ters, and, as he gave it to Nisan, Moorcroft remarked that if he ever 
found himself in Calcutta the note would serve him in good stead. 

I might suggest to any one who may have the opportunity of 
doing so that an exhumation of the corpse buried at Balkh as Moor- 
croft's would settle the matter at once. It might also be a good 
thing to remove altogether the remains of an Englishman from a 
place where they have for so long been treated with disrespect. If 
the skull is that of a European the body is Moorcroft's. If it is 
that of a native, there will arise a strong probability that the story 
Hue tells had at least some basis of fact. I should add that so great 
was the anger in Lhasa over the discovery of Moorcroft's notes and 
maps, that Nisan destroyed the " chit " lest in some way it should 
incriminate him. 

18. I had not properly read my Marco Polo ("Yule's" latest 
edition), when I wrote that I could not understand the reference 


to the "flesh-licking" yak. The emperor, Humaion himself, told 
the Turkish admiral, Sidi AH, that when a yak had knocked a man 
down, it skinned him from head to heels by licking him with his 

19. I have not drawn sufficient attention in these pages to the 
danger with which any decrease of our prestige in Lhasa threatens 
our best recruiting ground— Nepal. The Gurkhas, who are the 
mainstay of all our hill operations in the North-West, would be 
the first object of any foreign hostility in Lhasa which still exer- 
cises considerable spiritual ascendancy over their races. The excel- 
lent work of the 8th Gurkhas, who had been brought almost to 
perfection by Major Row, and the opportunity of active service, 
demands mention in this record, though in general I have avoided 
singling out officers or men for especial comment. 

20. In Tibet, only the members of the family are carried out to 
burial through the door. Others dying in the house are put through 
a window. In the Chumbi Valley the dead are cremated in a sit- 
ting posture. Some important persons in Tibet are cast after death 
into the Yam-dok tso, others — especially lamas— are reduced to 
a mere cuticle and enshrined in chortens. The enormous majority 
are hacked in pieces and given to the pigs, dogs, and vultures. 



The following bare record of the times of a ride from Lhasa to 
Darjeeling may, perhaps, be of some small interest. As I have said, 
the question of the real nearness to India of Lhasa in point of time 
was one which the authorities were anxious to decide. With a 
led horse apiece, and with very small kit, a well-found body of men 
would occupy about the time that I took myself in coming down 
from Lhasa to Darjeeling. The distances given are those by the 
shortest route. This was not always available for myself. 

First day: — • miles. 

Left Lhasa, 5.36 a.m. 
Arrived Tolung Bridge, 6.55. 
Last view Chorten, 7.22. 

Great Buddha, 8 -i 

First spur, 9.15. 

Spy Hole Rock, 10.12. 

Nam, 10.37. 

Chusul, 2.15 p.m ■ 

Pome-tse, 3.40. 

Chak-sam Ferry, 4.40. 42 

Second day: — 

Left Chak-sam, 6.45 a.m. 
Arrived Kamba-partsi, 8.35..., 
Top of Kamba la, 11.56. 
Pe-di jong, 4.10 p.m. 27 

Third day: — 

Left Pe-di jong, 8.50 a.m. 
Arrived Kal-sang Sampa, 9.57. 
Arrived Nagartse, 1240 p.m. 17 

Stayed twenty minutes at Nethang. 

Stayed half-an-hour. 

C River in flood ; an average crossing 
(, would be about 20 men per hour. 

Stayed twenty-five minutes. 




Fourth day: — miles. 

Left Nagartse, 7.7 a.m. 
Arrived at the Tibetan Wall, 11. o. 

Arrived Karo la, 12 noon 

Arrived, Ra-lung, 4.19 p.m. 27 

Fifth day: — 

Left Ra-lung, 6.20 a.m. 
Arrived Long-ma, 8.40. 

Arrived Gobshi, 10.50 

Arrived Gyantse, 4.7 p.m. 33 

Sixth day: — 

Left Gyantse, 5.35 a.m. 

Arrived Saugang, 9.20 

Arrived Kang-ma, 2.20 p.m. 
Arrived Menza Pass, 7.16. 

Seventh day: — 

Left Menza, 5.20 a.m. 

Arrived Kala tso, 8.7 

Arrived Dochen, 12.40 p.m. . 
Arrived Tuna, 5.5. 


Eighth day: — 

Left Tuna, 7.5 a.m. 
Arrived Tang la Post, 10.2. . 

Arrived Phari, 11.32 

Arrived Dota, 4.35 p.m. 

Ninth day: — 

Left Dota, 7.20 a.m. 
Arrived Gau tso, 9.20 




Arrived Chumbi, 1.45 p.m. 
Arrived Chumbi-tang, 7.15. 

Tenth day: — 

Left Chumbi-tang, 6.50 a.m. 
Arrived Natu la, 8.36 


Arrived Changu, 1 1.45 

Arrived Karponang, 4.15 p.m 

Arrived Gangtok, 9.12. 32 

Stayed half-an-hour. 

Stayed half-an-hour. 

Stayed an hour. 

Stayed three-quarters of an hour. 

Stayed an hour and a quarter. 
Stayed forty minutes. 

Stayed eighteen minutes. 

Stayed an hour and twenty minutes. 

Stayed fifty minutes. 
Met large convoy on road, which de- 
layed pace considerably. 
Stayed an hour and a half. 

Nine days five hours to frontier. 

( Stayed fifty minutes. Raining till 

( I reached Gangtok. 
Stayed half-an-hour. 



Eleventh day: — miles. 

Left Gangtok, 7.10 a.m. 
Arrived Bridge, 8.30. 

Arrived Rang-po, i p.m 

Arrived Tista Bridge, 4.50 

Arrived Pashok, 6.5. 41 

Last day: — 

Left Pashok, 5,50 a.m 

Arrived railway station, 
Ghoom, 8.46. 15 

Stayed an hour. 

Eleven days three hours and ten 
minutes from Lhasa. 


I reached the hotel at Darjeeling at 10. I may add that I reached Simla at 
4.15 on the afternoon of the fifteenth day, and London on the evening of the 
thirty-fifth day. 


The following honors and promotions were awarded in recognition 
of services in connection with the Tibet Mission : 

To he K.C.I.E. 

Major Francis Edward Younghusband, CLE., British Commis- 

Major and Brevet Colonel James Ronald Leslie Macdonald, C.B., 
R.E., in command of the Escort. 


To he CLE. 

John Claude White, Esq., Assistant to British Commissioner. 
Captain William Frederick Travers O'Connor, R.A., Secretary to 

British Commissioner. 
Lionel Truninger, Esq., Chief Telegraph Officer. 

To be C.M.G. 

Ernest Colville Collins Wilton, Esq., His Majesty's Vice-Consul at 

To be C.B. 

Lieutenant-Colonel and Brevet Colonel Hastings Read, Indian Army. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Lawrence Augustine Waddell, M.B., CLE., In- 
dian Medical Service. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Joshua Cooper, D.S.O., Royal Fusiliers. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Fountaine Hogge, Indian Army. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Ancrum Kerr, Indian Army. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Ralph Brander, Indian Army. 



To he D.S.O. 

Major Alexander Mullaly, Indian Army. 

Major Frank Murray, Indian Army. 

Major Robert Cobb Lye, Indian Army. • 

Major MacCarthy Reagh Emmet Ray, Indian Army. 

Captain Charles Hesketh Grant Moore, Indian Army. 

Captain Thomas Mawe Luke, Royal Artillery. 

Captain Julian Lawrence Fisher, Royal Fusiliers. 

Captain Dashwood William Harrington Humphreys, Indian Army. 

Lieutenant George Cecil Hodgson, Indian Army. 

To he Colonel 
Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Campbell, D.S.O., Indian Army. 

To he Lieutenant-Colonels 

Captain and Brevet Major William George Lawrence Beynon, 
D.S.O., Indian Army. 

Major Richard Woodfield Fuller, Royal Artillery. 

Major Herbert Augustus Iggulden, the Sherwood Foresters (Not- 
tinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment). 

To he Majors 
Captain Seymour Hulbert Sheppard, D.S.O., Royal Engineers. 
Captain William John Ottley, Indian Army. 

The following officers had been brought to notice by Brigadier- 
General J. R. L. Macdonald, C.B., as deserving of special approval 
for their services with the military forces attached to the Tibet 
Mission : 

Staff.— Colonel H. Read, Indian Army, commanding Line of 
Communications ; Major H. A. Iggulden, Nottinghamshire and Der- 
byshire Regiment, D.A.A.G. ; Brevet Major W. G. L. Beynon, 
D.S.O., 2nd Batt. 3rd Gurkhas, D.A.Q.M.G. ; Major J. M. Stewart, 
2nd Batt. 5th Gurkhas, Special Service Officer Line of Communi- 
cations; Major M. R. E. Ray, 7th Rajputs, D.A.Q.M.G.; Major 
J. O'B. Minogue, West Yorkshire Regiment, D.A.A.G.; and Lieu- 
tenant B. H. Bignell, 117th Mahrattas. 


Royd Artillery.— '}A2i]or R. W. Fuller, No. 7 Mountain Battery 
R.G.A. ; Captain F. A. Easton, No. 7 Mountain Battery R.G.A. ; and 
Captain T. M. Luke, No. 73 Company R.G.A. 

Royal Engineers.— Major C. H. Heycock, 2nd Company Sappers 
and Miners; Captain C. H. D. Ryder, Survey Officer; Captain S. 
H. Sheppard, D.S.O., ist Company Sappers; Captain C. Elliott^ 
Field Engineer; and Lieutenant J. A. McEnery, Assistant Field 

The Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment.— Captam G. H. Neale, 
Transport Officer. 

Royal Fusiliers.— Colonel E. J. Cooper, D.S.O., Captain J. L. 
Fisher, and Captain C. A. H. Palairet. 

Norfolk Regiment.— hieutenaint A. L. Hadow, commanding Ma- 
chine Gun Section. 

Royal Highlanders.— Captain J. B. Pollock Morris, Transport 

14th Murray's Jat Lancers.— Captain H. M. W. Souter, Trans- 
port Officer. 

igth Punjabis.— Ma]or L. N. Herbert. 

23rc? Sikh Pion^^r^.— Lieutenant-Colonel A. F. Hogge, Major R. 
C. Lye, Captain H. F. A. Pearson, and Captain W. J. Ottley (com- 
manding Mounted Infantry Company). 

32nd Sikh Ptow^^r.y.— Lieutenant-Colonel H. R. Brander, Major 

F. H. Peterson, D.S.O., Captain E. H. S. Cullen, and Lieutenant 

G. C. Hodgson. 

40th Pa^/taw.y.— Lieutenant-Colonel F. Campbell, D.S.O., Captain 
T. R. Maclachlan, and Captain G. A. Preston. 

46th Punjabis.— Captain C. H. Peterson (commanding Mounted 
Infantry Company). 

2nd Batt. 2nd Gurkhas.— Captam F. G. C. Ross, Transport Officer. 

^th Gurkha i?t^^.y.— Lieutenant-Colonel M. A. Kerr, Major F. 
Murray, Captains C. BUss and D. W. H. Humphreys, and Lieuten- 
ant J. D. Grant. 

Supply and Transport Corps.— Ma]or A. MuUaly, Captains C. H. 
G. Moore and H. H. Roddy, and Lieutenant W. Dunlop. 

Royal Army Medical Corps.— Ma]or A. R. Aldridge. 

Indian Medical Cor/».?.— Lieutenant-Colonel L. A. Waddell, C.I.E., 
Major C. N. C. Wimberly, and Captain T. B. Kelly. 

Army Veterinary Department.— Captain R. C. Moore. 

Volunteer Nursing Sister A. Taylor. 



I HAVE waited till the last moment to sum up the results of the 
Mission in order to include the latest possible phase. At the mo- 
ment of the publication of this book there still remains much to be 
done, if the full benefit of the expedition is to be reaped; but al- 
ready matters have arranged themselves in a more satisfactory 
manner than at one time seemed likely, and though the ultimate 
action of the Dalai Lama is an unknown factor of the highest im- 
portance, it is now possible to forecast with some certainty the 
effect which any action of his or of the Chinese will have upon our 
own position in the country. 

After tedious and prolonged discussion during the month of Au- 
gust, Colonel Younghusband determined to bring matters to a head, 
the more so as General Macdonald was pressing him to retire from 
Lhasa. The first serious hint of his determination to delay no longer 
was enough, and with the assistance of the Amban himself, the 
Nepalese Resident, and the Tongsa Penlop, the representatives of 
Tibet agreed to sign, and actually did sign, on the seventh of Sep- 
tember the long-demanded Treaty. The ceremony of affixing the 
seals of the Dalai Lama, of the Sen-de-gye-sum and of the Tsong- 
du, took place with all possible solemnity in the hall of the Potala 
Palax:e, in the presence of a large gathering of all the more impor- 
tant officers and officials on either side. In form the Treaty cor- 
responded closely with that which I have already sketched out 
on pages 224 and 225. One important clause there was, how- 
ever, to which special